Young BBC Proms star devastated by theft of prized saxophone

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A young BBC Proms star today appealed for the return of her prized saxophone after it was snatched on the street, saying: “It’s like a friend to me.”

Jess Gillam, 19, was walking through Hammersmith with her father Doug when the pair got lost on the way to a meeting.

She believes the £4,000 soprano Yanagisawa S901U was placed on the pavement in its case for a matter of seconds as they asked a passer-by for directions at around 11.30am on Thursday. When she turned back, it was gone.

Gillam, who was the first saxophonist to appear in the final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition last year, said: “Dad walked away to talk to the man and it must have been taken just then. He came back and we realised neither one of us had it.

“As soon as it happened I couldn’t comprehend it because it’s just a part of me. I’ve known that saxophone for two to three years and it’s just an instrument I love so my heart sank.

“I absolutely love performing and this particular saxophone, there’s something very special about it, it’s like a friend to me. We’ve gone through a lot together.”

Presenter Katie Derham appealed for the instrument’s return on BBC2’s Proms Extra programme on Saturday.

Ms Gillam, who has launched an online appeal for information under her twitter name @JessGillamSax,  played the instrument while making her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall.

She said: “I would be so grateful to anybody who had either seen it or sees it for sale.

“I would just hate to think it’s been dumped because it’s such an amazing saxophone and to not have it is heartbreaking.

“I just fulfilled one of my ambitions of playing for the first time in the BBC Proms this year and everything is just going so well and so brilliantly, my saxophone was helping me so I just hope it comes back.”

Police were understood to be investigating.

Ms Gillam, from Cumbria, has been lent a spare saxophone by Yanagisawa to allow her to keep up with practice and performances.

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