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Children of nurse in 'royal' prank call left with ‘unfillable void’

Funeral of UK nurse duped by 'royal' prank call to take place in India on Monday

  • AFP
  • Published: 16:39 December 15, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • The family of the late Jacintha Saldanha, husband Benedict Barboza (centre), son Junal, 16, and daughter Lisha, 14, arrive at Westminster Cathedral in London for a memorial service yesterday. She took her own life after answering a hoax phone call.

London: The children of a nurse found hanged after she was duped by a hoax phone call to the hospital treating Prince William’s wife Catherine told a mass in her memory on Saturday her death left “an unfillable void”.

Indian-born Jacintha Saldanha, 46, apparently killed herself in nurses’ accommodation at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London last week.

She had taken a call from two Australian radio DJs posing as Queen Elizabeth II and William’s father Prince Charles, which led to details of Catherine’s severe morning sickness being made public.

In a joint tribute read out on their behalf during the mass at Westminster Cathedral, the nurse’s daughter Lisha, 14, and son Junal, 16, said: “We are shattered and there’s an unfillable void in our lives.

“The house is an empty dwelling without your presence,” they added.

“You worked tirelessly to give us everything that we have today.”

A relative of the family said after the service that the funeral would take place in the nurse’s home town of Shirva in India on Monday.

Her husband Benedict Barboza, 49, held hands with the couple’s two children as they arrived for the mass at the cathedral, the main Catholic church in England.

In his tribute, the nurse’s husband said: “You were the light in my darkness, you always showed me the way forward. I feel part of me has been ripped out.

“Nineteen years of togetherness with a strong bond of affection and understanding will be cherished forever in my life. Your loss is a very painful one and nobody can take that place in my life ever again. I love you and miss you forever.”

The family had also attended a candlelit vigil in Bristol, the city where they live in southwest England, on Friday.

After it emerged that Saldanha had left three notes, one of which reportedly criticised the hospital, its chief executive John Lofthouse said the nurse was reassured on a number of occasions by senior management after the hoax.

Writing in reply to Keith Vaz, a British lawmaker who has helped to comfort the family, Lofthouse said Saldanha was the victim of a “cruel trick” and senior staff did not blame her and offered her time off and counselling.

“Following the hoax call, Saldanha was reassured on a number of occasions by senior management that no blame was attached to her actions and that there were no disciplinary issues involved, because she had been the victim of a cruel trick,” Lofthouse wrote.

Australian police said on Thursday that death threats have been made against Michael Christian and Mel Greig, the DJs from Sydney’s 2Day FM radio station who made the hoax call.

The presenters, who have been undergoing counselling, remain off air and have not been seen in public since making tearful apologies in a television interview on Monday.

Comments (8)

  1. Added 17:15 December 16, 2012

    Suicide has been, and always will be a selfish act. Whilst i agree that the prank call was in poor taste it would be a wild assumption to blame the prank call for the suicide - especially when you read the whole story and listen to the prank recording. There are obviously other factors in her life which exasperated the situation and the prank was simply "the straw that broke the camels back" Whilst i am very sympathetic to the pain that her family is going through i cant help but blame the nurse for taking her life at the expense of forever scarring her children, husband and the radio DJs. Suicide has always been considered as a selfish, cowardly act and this has been demonstrated quite clearly in this scenario by all the people who will forever be haunted by this incident. As a society we have to stop honoring suicides and we should brand it as the deplorable selfish act that it is. It is exactly this sympathetic revering of suicide that encourages more people in similar troubled circumstances to end their life just to get the "attention" that they feel they are entitled to.

    Simon, London, United Kingdom

  2. Added 16:47 December 16, 2012

    I totally agree with Ahmad, never know how an individual would react. One can laugh it off, while another can be deeply hurt. I am sure she must have had a huge impact on her mind, which some cannot tolerate and in that state of mind she could not think anything. But i feel sad for the family who have to manage without her. So, its best to avoid pranks like which can change someone's life completely. Very sad

    Jacqueline, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 16:24 December 16, 2012

    This was just a prank and people do enjoy such leg pulling stuff whether someone believes or may lie that they don't enjoy. In most comedy movies/plays we admire watching such big prank dramas and which in most cases happen in real life as well. Based on that if people start taking their lives without being professional to understand their ultimate responsibility towards their immediate families and friends, it is just not sensible. I don't blame anyone, but believe that this was her unfortunate destiny.

    Irfan, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:47 December 16, 2012

    I don't know why media is covering this story so much when there is lots of chaos to report on. This really does not justify the space taken in major media cirrculars.

    khan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:13 December 16, 2012

    Practical joke at the expense of other people by humiliating them in public. That's cruelty not a JOKE! Dont these people know the meaning of respect?!

    Arlen, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:21 December 16, 2012

    All my sympathies are with the children, they lost their mother and this fact will stay with them for the rest of their lives. They won't have their mothers for birthdays, graduations, marriages and then when their own kids are born. It's a sad incident, but I still don't understand why someone would take their own life for such an incident. Why didn't the mother think of her children? Why didn't someone close to her realize her mental state? The DJs in this case are not the only ones to blame, the hospital management and then the nurse was responsible as well.

    Adam, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 12:03 December 16, 2012

    While I do understand the need to curb cruel jokes by the DJs, I honestly cannot understand why a medical educated professional would take her own life because of a small issue, despite being reassured by her employers. Didn't she think her kids and family were all above this small prank?

    Mariya, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 11:23 December 16, 2012

    I guess it should be a good lesson to all the radio DJs or RJs all over the world. I suggest that such prank call shows should be banned globally because you never know what kind of impact it can have on someone who is pranked in front of thousands. It's like embarrassing someone in front of not just few, but thousands of people. Once in UAE I heard a same prank call on some FM radio where a husband was pranked on his wife's request, and at the end of the show when the radio RJs told the guy that it was only a prank requested by his wife, he started using bad language for his wife on air. So, please never underestimate feelings and emotions, it can be deadly for some.

    Ahmad, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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