PEOPLE who knew popular broadcaster Bill Heine are being invited to a special service to celebrate his life.

Mr Heine died aged 74 in April following a battle with acute myeloid leukaemia, which he documented in his Oxford Mail columns.

His death prompted fond memories of his lengthy but ultimately successful fight to keep a fibreglass shark in the roof of his house in New High Street, Headington, in 1986.

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A family funeral did not give all his friends and acquaintances a chance to pay their respects, so now a celebration service is to be held at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in High Street.

Oxford Mail:

It is being organised by Mr Heine’s partner Jane Hanson and will take place on Thursday, August 29 from 6pm to 8pm.

Ms Hanson, who lives in Waterstock, near Thame, said: “We had a private family funeral in April and the idea is to have people come who would like to celebrate Bill’s life.

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“He touched the lives of many in Oxford, many I have never met and others of whom I have not heard. No invitation is needed.”

Ms Hanson, who met Mr Heine in the city more than 30 years ago - the couple have a son Magnus - has been trawling through Mr Heine’s emails to invite his contacts to the service.

She added: “Bill knew most of Oxford - I think you can fit 600 people into the church and it could be a full house.

“There will be a hymn and a prayer and various people will be asked to speak about Bill.

Oxford Mail:

“We will ask lots of speakers to say a little bit about Bill from their perspective.

“I’ve sent out quite a few emails and had lots of responses - he knew all the politicians.”

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Ms Hanson, who has two daughters from a previous relationship, said she was ‘astonished’ following Mr Heine’s death by the extensive coverage in newspapers and other media.

She added: “I recently came back from America and in the British Airways in-flight magazine there was an article about Bill and the shark - he would have been astonished by all the coverage.”

Ms Hanson added that she was certain the service would be ‘an emotional occasion’.

“I know how many people loved him,” she said.

“At the same time he did get up some people’s noses - he was a controversial character.”

Oxford Mail:

Ms Hanson said she hoped the service would give those attending a chance to hear more about Mr Heine as a family man, instead of focusing solely on his efforts to install the shark and ensure it was allowed to remain.

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She added: “Bill was so much more - he never said no - if anyone had a new idea he would get behind it - the more ridiculous it was the more excited he was - he just really got people.

Oxford Mail:

“He saw his radio show (on BBC Radio Oxford) as a means of giving people in Oxfordshire a voice.”

Mr Heine was born in Illinois in the United States and studied at Balliol College.

He ran the Penultimate Picture Palace cinema in East Oxford and the Moulin Rouge Cinema in Headington.