CILLA Black’s niece, who lives in Newport, has paid tribute to the popular entertainer, who died today at the age of 72.

Spanish police yesterday announced the TV presenter and singer, whose real name was Priscilla White, died at her home on the Costa del Sol.

Gina Robertson, from St Julians, told the Argus she had many fond memories of her aunt. Cilla was the sister of Ms Roberston’s late father, George White.

Ms Robertson, the editor of our sister newspapers the Barry & District News and the Penarth Times, said the last time she saw her aunt was at her father’s funeral in 2010 and before that at Cilla’s son’s wedding.

She said: “Cilla was lovely and I have lots of fond memories of her.”

Mrs Robertson described how, as a child, she would spend summer holidays at Cilla’s home in London, where she would be taken shopping and to see West End shows.

She was also a bridesmaid at Cilla’s wedding to Bobby Willis in 1969.

She said: “As a young child I didn’t see her as being famous. But when I was out with her, I would see people stopping and looking as they recognised who she was.”

Ms Robertson said the TV drama-documentary Cilla that aired last year brought up a lot of things that she didn’t previously know.

She added: “It was brilliant and I know that Cilla was very proud of it.”

Police have said that Cilla’s death appears to be due to natural causes, but this had not yet been confirmed by tests.

Tributes have poured in for the star, who reportedly died after flying to Spain with her son Robert.
Her publicist Nick Fiveash confirmed her death yesterday.

Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney said: “She was a lovely girl who infected everyone with her great spirit.

“From first meeting her as a cloakroom girl at the Cavern in Liverpool, to seeing her many times since, she always had a fun-loving dignity that made her a great pleasure to be around.

“She had a fine distinctive voice and was always a bit of a laugh. It was a privilege to know and love her.”

Singer Sir Cliff Richard said: “Some people will always be with us and Cilla is one of those people. I will always think of her as outrageous, funny, incredibly gifted but above all full of heart.

“She was a very special person, and I have lost a very wonderful friend. I will miss her dearly.”

Prime minister David Cameron tweeted: “Cilla Black was a huge talent who made a significant contribution to public life in Britain.”

Born in Liverpool, she transformed herself from a successful singer in the 1960s to the front woman on shows such as Blind Date and Surprise! Surprise!

She was married to her manager, Bobby Willis, for more than 30 years until he died in 1999.

She scored two number ones in 1964, Anyone Who Had A Heart and You’re My World, before becoming the first woman to have her own prime-time chat show on BBC1.

Cilla was awarded an OBE in 1997 and in 2013 she celebrated 50 years in show business.