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Dubai journo’s death on job shocks pals

Amanda Fisher and Nivriti Butalia / 10 February 2013

A fun-loving, adventurous, reliable friend who sung in the office and loved to watch X Factor and a bit of rugby — this is how Rebecca Davidson will be remembered by those around her.

The 35-year-old Kiwi journalist, who was the deputy head of programming at Arabian Radio Network’s Dubai Eye, was killed in a boating accident in the Seychelles on Friday night about 9.30 while in the country on a Press trip.

Davidson succumbed to injuries during the incident in the channel between the main island of Mahe and Sainte Anne Island, during which it appeared two boats had collided.

The self-described “farm girl”, who had been working with ARN for two years, was on the trip with two other ARN journalists to cover the third Seychelles annual carnival.

ARN chief executive Steve Smith said British desk editor and news presenter Lucy Taylor suffered injuries and was in hospital, though her condition “wasn’t critical”, while the third staff member, a producer, was not on the boat at the time of the accident.

“Lucy’s in hospital and stable but it is deeply saddening for us, both such beautiful people. We’ll miss Rebecca terribly,” Smith said.

It was a difficult time for everybody at the station, he said.

“We don’t know enough details but the news came as a shock to the 200-odd of us at the station. We’re like a family. We knew her well”.

Davidson was a “prolific journalist with a broad knowledge of a lot of areas”.

“She was always coming up with great ideas”.

He said Davidson was especially keen on sport, but could report on anything from sport to lifestyle.

A fan of the All Blacks, with a photo of her and All Black great Justin Marshall on her Facebook page, Davidson recently ran the 10km Dubai marathon after 10 weeks of training.

“She had a lot of focus and enthusiasm and passion and commitment, nothing was ever done in half,” Steve said. Both Lucy and Rebecca have been with ARN for two years. “In Radio, you have to have a passion that gets into your blood and Rebecca typified that passion.”

As late as last week, she was a new member of the Dubai Eye 103.8 drive time show with Tim Elliot and Richard Deam.

Tributes have flooded online, including from former ARN news presenter Shiona McCallum, who wrote on Facebook: “No words to express my sadness and shock, Rebecca Davidson I can’t believe you’re gone. You helped me infinitely when things were bad; a real ray of sunshine and an incredible friend.”

ARN colleague Ben Jacobs wrote that Davidson was: “a cracking journalist, who always went out of her way to help others. Intelligent, fun-loving and an absolute pleasure to work with and call my friend. Only last week she was rocking it with us at the golf. She will be massively, massively missed”.

Former collegue Zhora Q wrote on Twitter that she was devastated by the loss of the amazing, kind and helpful person.

“Rebecca Davidson was a great colleague. She was always happy singing round the office, was always on hand to help, she will be truly missed.”

High-profile New Zealand-based television reporter Paula Penfold also wrote a message marking the loss.

“Devastated at the loss of great journo and friend Rebecca Davidson. She was a lovely, kind, gorgeous person.”

Davidson’s online profiles were full of photos of her involvement in sports events, at the Rugby Sevens and surrounded by friends. In one online exchange, she said she had not accepted an umbrella from a colleague at last year’s Rugby Sevens, despite the driving rain.

“Toby very kindly offered up his brolly but I’m a farm girl!”

In another conversation, she declares her love for the US version of the talent show X Factor.

“It’s so sad but this is def the highlight of my viewing year! LOVE!”

A spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand said consular staff were in contact with the family, who only learned about the accident on Saturday.

While there was no New Zealand diplomatic presence in the Seychelles, staff were providing consular assistance, he said.

Dubai One reported Smith had said ARN was in touch with Davidson’s family and were helping make arrangements to repatriate her body.

Meanwhile, according to reports, Seychelles’s Maritime Safety Administration opened an investigation to find out the exact cause of the accident. Police too have launched an investigation into the fatal collision.




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