The Jay I knew

I wanted to share my story of my friendship with Jay.

I know I was just one of many people who would consider Jay a very special friend.

Jay first came into my life around 2004 when he came to do some freelance work at the Special Features Unit at the BBC. He was a breath of fresh air in the office and we became instant friends. Whenever he came into the office he always had a smile and his eyes sparkled. It was always fun when he was around.

At this time I think Jay was on a BBC mentoring programme with Sharon Banoff and Tony Philips.

We shared a love of film – in particular independent film – and we used to go to film screenings together. He always used to seem the films we watched in a different way and I learnt a great deal in our post screening conversations. I admired his energy, positive attitude to life and can-do approach to work and I followed his career/life progress with interest.

One memory I have was when Jay turned up at my office with his rucksack on his back looking completely exhausted. He’d literally just got off the plane from America where he’d just spent 3 months volunteering as part of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. As a British Nigerian he felt passionate about what Obama stood for and felt that he wanted to be part of an historic event. So he had packed his bags, jumped on a plane and headed to Columbus, Ohio.

I was gripped by the stories he shared with on his return, the Democrat families who put him up during his stay and his passionate desire to be ‘part of history.’ As he said to me ‘Yes We Can’ became ‘Yes We Did’. This was clearly a life changing experience for him and on his return he stayed with me as he was renting his flat out and was grappling with the idea of whether to pursue his career in Washington.

But as with everything life takes over and although we were in touch via Facebook & bumped into each other at various events we didn’t see as much of each other. He did some freelance work for me when I left the BBC and started working for myself. He even managed to get a fantastic job for Christian Aid going on a trip to South Sudan when I was unable to go due to a prior work commitments. I was so jealous of him – but I know that he captured impressive audio.

The last time I saw him was last year at the Curzon cinema where we bumped into each other at a documentary screening. It was like I had seen him yesterday. We talked about catching up properly for a coffee – sadly that didn’t happen.

But he was so happy, looking forward to getting married and seemed to be in such a good place with exciting projects in development and impressive work credits to his name.

He’ll remain in my heart, a constant source of inspiration and I feel extremely lucky that he came into my life.

He clearly touched the lives of everyone he met. His warmth, his sparkly eyes, his wonderful smile, his love for life, his passion. I really look forward to reading other people’s memories and stories of Jay.

Jude Habib