Listeners pay tributes after death of radio DJ Lara

TRIBUTES have been paid to Radio Woking DJ Lara McNamee, who has died after falling ill with COVID-19. A JustGiving page set up in her memory has raised nearly £5,000.

Lara and Jon Andrews on Christmas Day 2018 when they got engaged

Her fiancé Jon Andrews set up the memorial fund in aid of the learning disabilities charity Sunnybank Trust for which he broadcasts a show on Surrey Hills Community Radio.

Jon said: “I have set this up to bring light to the darkness. Lara was a lovely caring person. She supported me when I started my job with Sunnybank and she really appreciated the good work the charity does with adults with learning difficulties in her hometown of Epsom.”

Radio Woking announced Lara’s death on Twitter and has received a huge number of replies of condolence. Jon said he was very touched by the messages.

When the pandemic struck earlier this year, the couple set up a studio at their home in Woking so they could record their radio shows.

Lara at the studio where she broadcast her show Lara on Sunday

Lara’s last show was broadcast on 13 December and Jon and a colleague recorded her show the following week.

She had been broadcasting the Lara on Sunday show since early 2019 with music and interviews with musicians and experts in a wide range of areas, from cooking, baking and gardening to money saving, community and charity news, environmental matters, theatre and cinema.

Lara and Jon met when she turned on the Christmas lights in Epsom in 2014.

She recalled: “I grew up in Epsom and saw the lights were being switched on but there was no mention of anyone doing it. I sent the organisers a cheeky tweet, saying ‘if no one else is doing it, then I will’, and they took me up on it.”

The couple knew each other from exchanged tweets but had never met and a mutual friend had suggested that Jon go along to the lights switch-on.

“It was instant attraction,” Lara said. “It was like we had been together forever.”

The story of their meeting put them into the finals of a competition to win a free wedding at a four-star hotel.

They didn’t win that prize but planned a wedding in February 2020, because Lara liked the symmetry of the date.

“We couldn’t do that and planned a wedding in the new year,” Jon said.

He said that he and Lara communicated remotely while she was in hospital.

“Her last message to me was that we should get married if she got through this,” Jon said.

On New Year’s Eve, Jon ran a social media campaign called #raiseaglasstolara.

“People took selfies raising a glass,” he said.

“I have now ordered a photo book of these photos as a memory.”

To donate to the memorial fund, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/laramcnameeinmemory

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