Telegraph journalist and mother of five Cassandra Jardine has died aged 57 two years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
She initially joined the Telegraph as assistant to TE Utley after graduated in 1976 and worked for Cosmopolitan, Unilever’s in-house magazine and Business magazine before returning to the Telegraph as a feature writer in 1989.
Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher said: “Cassandra was a peerless journalist: a brilliant interviewer, a formidable columnist and a superb all-round feature writer.
“She was a guiding influence on the Telegraph Christmas charity appeal and her tireless work was much appreciated by many of the little known charities she championed.
“Because of her dedication, many small but valuable charities have been catapulted onto the national and international stage.
“Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.”
Writing in the Telegraph today colleague Elizabeth Grice said: “Nothing was quite so intimidating as the sight and sound of Cass devouring her keyboard as a deadline approached. Working in a sort of small gully between tottering columns of books and papers, Cass could write two features in a day to anybody else’s one. She was the gold standard of professionalism and diligence. For the best part of 20 years at The Daily Telegraph, we shared a desk, sitting opposite, diagonally or side by side. She was a force of nature when a subject gripped her. Only two things stopped her flow: a nugget of gossip or a sudden call from one of her children.
“In recent years, since the death of Bill Deedes, she had become the lynchpin of the Christmas charity appeal. Incisively, swiftly, she read and evaluated each written presentation and produced fast, fair reports on every one. At the Telegraph’s 2010 Christmas service at St Bride’s church – she was already suffering from lung cancer – she spoke for nearly half an hour, passionately and with no notes, about the three chosen charities.”
Bryony Gordon wrote: “First day on The Daily Telegraph features desk, and I am seated opposite a woman with a mass of dark hair and a vividly coloured outfit, typing so ferociously that it sounds like artillery fire. She picks up the phone and talks at hyper-speed; she has five conversations in the time it usually takes to have one. She is a Whirling Dervish. She is hypnotic. She is, quite frankly, terrifying. And then she leaps up from behind her computer in a movement so fast it makes a Jack-in-the-Box look glacial
“Cass was always there to help everyone, in the most no-nonsense, fabulous way. Fear of redundancies, problems with boyfriends, office politics: no dilemma was too big (or small) for Cass. She would instantly deliver her special brand of straightforward advice. In the case of redundancies? ‘Oh well, if they sack us then they sack us and more fool them.’ Boyfriend troubles? ‘I spent most of my time at Cosmopolitan worrying about men but I can exclusively reveal to you that it turns out all right in the end.’ Arguments with colleagues? ‘Don’t worry, they’ll get over it.'”