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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Gavin Ford: famed morning radio host’s death shocks Lebanon

For decades he lent his voice to Radio One’s ‘Gavin Ford in the Morning’ show, a commuter favourite

Ford had become a fixture for many Lebanese who grew up listening to his voice as they went to school or university. AFP
Ford had become a fixture for many Lebanese who grew up listening to his voice as they went to school or university. AFP

Famed British Radio host Gavin Ford was found brutally murdered yesterday in his house in Broumana in the hills outside Beirut, shocking thousands of listeners who had enjoyed his breakfast show every morning for decades.

“It hurts to see how human life is nothing for some. Gavin has been entertaining us for years, I grew up listening to this guy,” tweeted news reporter Jessy Khalil.

Ford, who turned 53 last Sunday, had become a fixture for many Lebanese who grew up listening to his voice as they went to school or university.

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Friends and colleagues pay tribute to radio star Gavin Ford after his murder in Lebanon

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“Being in Beirut, you spend a lot of time in the car, and listening to Gavin became my morning ritual,” 28-year-old NRJ radio host Sarah Gharzeddine told The National. “There are many English radio hosts in Lebanon, but Gavin stood out. He was more Lebanese than I am. He loved living in this country.”

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said that the investigation was still ongoing and has not yet released details regarding the murder.

Radio One broke the news yesterday on Facebook but did not provide details.

“We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our dear Gavin Ford, a member of our team for many joyful years. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues all over the world. Rest in Peace Gavin,” read the statement.

His co-host Olga Habre, who worked with Ford for six and a half years, told The National that he returned home after work on Monday, which is when he is thought to have been killed.

“On Tuesday morning, he didn’t show up for work, and I grew concerned,” said Mrs Habre. “He would only skip work if he was severely ill and always told us when he wasn’t coming. A bunch of friends and colleagues, myself included, went over to his house to see if he was there and waited for the police to come so that we could enter.” Mrs Habre did not say who discovered the body.

British ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling wrote on Twitter that he was “shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Gavin Ford, one of Lebanon’s most popular morning breakfast hosts. The thoughts of all at the Embassy are with his family, friends and colleagues at this terribly difficult time”.

Local media reported that he had been found strangled and handcuffed.

A picture of his dead body, as well as a supposed police report, have circulated on social media, shocking his fans. “The photo and the homophobic coroner’s report of Gavin Ford circulating are disgusting. Shame on the lack of morals and empathy in our country. No respect for a dead man!” tweeted Eli.

Colleagues remember him as kind and dedicated to his show.

“He was very thorough in preparing his programme. He was sure to have the latest show business news and to sound different every day,” said colleague and friend Dan Harper, who will be organising a tribute to Ford to be broadcast on six radios across the country at the same time, including Radio 1.

“He was a perfectionist,” remembers Mrs Habre. In real life, he was a lot more introverted than on air, she says. Another friend, singer Xriss Jor, recalls hiking with him in the hills around Broumana or spending time together at his house for movie nights with friends.

Ford started working for local radio station Radio One back in 1996. In a profile written by Lebanon Traveller in 2017, he explained that he used to work in Cyprus before coming to Lebanon.

“Radio One could actually be heard from there and I was fascinated by this station, in an exciting sounding country called Lebanon, playing all the newest songs long before we could get them,” he said. Ford had previous studied at the National Broadcasting School.

“He came to Lebanon thinking it would be ‘exotic’, with deserts, little white houses and camels. When he arrived to the area where he lived and worked, Broumana, he was a little disappointed that it was a mountainous, lush green area with no little white houses. He loved it nonetheless and stayed”, says Mrs Habre.

She remembers he loved Lebanon for its many hours of sunshine but also because “he thought there was something very special about the Lebanese”.

Ford was a popular figure on social media, often posting pictures of himself, friends and his dog Fred on Instagram. He would also do occasional product placement and worked with companies such as supermarket chain Spinneys, CEO Michael Wright told The National. In the last picture he posted three days ago, he’s enjoying a bubble bath. “The perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday”, he wrote.