Esther Rantzen leads tributes to first female Ivor Novello winner Lynsey de Paul

ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen has led tributes to the first woman to ever win a prestigious Ivor Novello award, Lynsey de Paul, who has died aged 64.

Singer-songwriter Ms de Paul, who lived in Hampstead and Highgate for much of her life, died from a suspected brain haemorrhage on Wednesday last week.

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The 1973 hit Won’t Somebody Dance With Me won the singer her first Ivor Novello award and five years later, she narrowly missed out on first place at the Eurovision Song Contest with her song Rock Bottom.

Alongside her pop career, she wrote music for television shows – including the theme for Ms Rantzen’s Hearts of Gold series.


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Ms Rantzen, of Hampstead, remembered: “I was one of many friends she had, particularly in Hampstead which she adored and lived in for many years. “Of course, she was incredibly gifted, could write music and perform it brilliantly.”

The 74-year-old added: “She was a very talented artist as well, and beautiful – she just never aged! She always looked 35.

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“She was a lovely, generous, kind and caring friend and I will miss her terribly.”

Born to a Jewish family in 1950, she grew up in Cricklewood and attended South Hampstead High School, in Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, and later the now-defunct Hornsey College of Art in Crouch End where she studied art and design.

Before signing a contract with music publisher ATV Kirshner in 1971, she worked as a commercial artist and designed album sleeves.

However, she got her first break writing the runaway hit Storm in a Teacup for The Fortunes in 1972.

Her debut single Sugar Me, which charted at number five, is arguably her best known song, and a string of top 10 hits followed.

By the mid-1970s, she had branched out into writing music for television and her theme for the comedy series No, Honestly won her a second Ivor Novello in 1974.

Her pop career ended in the 1970s but she continued to compose and her songs were performed by stars including Shirley Bassey and Ricky Martin.

She lived for many years in Holly Village, Highgate, but moved around Highgate and Hampstead throughout her life.

She only strayed from the area shortly before her death, when she moved to Mill Hill.

Ms de Paul is survived by her brother John.

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