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Colleagues mourn journalist friend.

Summary: The colleagues of a talented New Zealand journalist killed in the Seychelles are still reeling from the news, as her distraught family arrives in Dubai today, to take their daughter home.

The colleagues of a talented New Zealand journalist killed in the Seychelles are still reeling from the news, as her distraught family arrives in Dubai today, to take their daughter home.

Rebecca Davidson, 35, a New Zealand native, died late Friday when the vessel she was aboard struck another boat in the channel between the main island of Mahe and Sainte Anne Island.

Davidson, deputy head of programming at the Arabian Radio Network's Dubai Eye news centre in Dubai where she had worked for two years, was working on travel-related stories for the station, where she had recently received a promotion. Davidson's father Ian, speaking on Sunday from her hometown of Cambridge, New Zealand, said the family was "distraught" and still trying to come to terms with the news.

He, his wife Carolyn and their two daughters, Melissa, 33, and Catherine, 28, are due to arrive in the UAE this morning to take her body home: "She was a people's person, the life of the party ... she walked in and people knew she was there. She was full of life."

Davidson was "extremely focused ... self-motivated and driven", and had achieved a lot, he said. His daughter had recently been promoted to co-hosting a drive-time slot, which followed another promotion in December 2011.

"Things were going well ... she was really excited ... and she only started a week and a half ago. She got the opportunity to go to the Seychelles and that's when it finished," Mr Davidson said. "We really are quite distraught." Davidson had wanted to be a journalist from the age of 10, he said: "We had a video camera and she was reading all the news, mimicking the newsreaders, and recording herself."

While at Cambridge High School, where she was head girl in her final year, she worked at a local community radio station on weekends before undergoing training and getting a job at state broadcaster TVNZ. ARN chief executive Steve Smith said the staff had met yesterday to discuss Rebecca's death: "We needed to gather to go through what's happened over the last few days."

Another marketing staff member had also died from breast cancer: "We've had a pretty tough 72 hours." However, Davidson, who he described as a vibrant person who touched many, "would have been very proud of how (all the staff) are pulling together," to support each other, Smith said.

Details of the accident were still 'pretty sketchy', though Seychelles authorities were trying hard to handle a difficult situation, Smith said. He said he hoped Davidson's family members, who were still reeling, would be given space from media during their time in Dubai.

A memorial to Davidson would be planned in time but, "none of us are at that point yet, it's very, very raw." Friend and journalist Paula Penfold, who worked with Davidson at TVNZ, said everyone who had worked with her was devastated by the news.

"She was a beautiful person; friendly, engaging, loyal, incredibly caring and considerate. She was also a great journalist and I've loved watching her go from strength to strength in what she's done. TVNZ director of coverage Claire Watson, Davidson's former boss, said she was talented, hard-working and "very special".

"She was extremely funny, warm and generous ... she kept us very entertained. We were a very close team ... and were working at a horrible time of the day (for the Breakfast show) but she always came in cheerfully, and got everything done with flair and good humour."

Davidson was pronounced dead on arrival at the Seychelles Hospital. Her colleague, Lucy Taylor, a news editor at the station, was injured in the accident. Seychelles maritime authorities are investigating the incident.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:6SEYC
Date:Feb 11, 2013
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