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'Jilly is with our Lord now' says Christian campaigner's husband in moving funeral tribute

Tue 17 Jan 2017
By Aaron James

The grieving husband of human rights campaigner Jill Saward has spoken of his heartbreak over the loss of his wife at her funeral service at Lichfield Cathedral.

Jill Saward died after suffering a subarachnoid haemorrhage on 5 January. She was 51-years-old.

Ms Saward was the first rape victim to waive her anonymity after she was attacked by intruders at her father's vicarage in 1986.

Since then, she campaigned tirelessly for better rights for rape survivors including for a change in the law that prevented people accused of rape from cross-examining their alleged victims at trial.

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The family of Jill Saward after her funeral

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Jill Saward's husband Gavin Drake is comforted after her funeral

  

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In a homily at the funeral, Rev Gary Piper said: "She went through some very dark times - was near suicide at one point.

"Relationships were often difficult, there was a failed first marriage and life was really dark.

"But her courage and strength, together with support from those who loved her, plus that power from Christ, strengthened her and enabled her to pull through."

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Jill Saward's husband Gavin Drake (second from right) and son Myles (right)

 

In his own tribute, Saward's husband, Gavin Drake said he was left heartbroken by his loss.

Mr Drake said: "The pain of losing Jill has been hard. And is hard. Not just for me, but for my three lads.

"Myles, Rory and Fergus have shown incredible courage and strength - on the outside at least.

"I have no idea what they are thinking on the inside, or what they are going through.

"I only know what I am going through - but even here, I think that I am too numb to really know what I am feeling."

He also thanked the public for their hundreds of messages of condolence.

"We have been inundated with messages of support - again from all over the world," he said.

"Statesmen and sports stars; politicians and campaigners; archbishops and ordinary people."

Mr Drake added that despite his faith, the loss of his wife was still painful.

He said: "Jilly and I are Christians and, even though I know that she is now with our Lord and Saviour, the pain of her death is very strong."

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