Adrienne Watkins to her love, Mark Pilgrim: ‘You have been the greatest soundtrack to my life’

A picture of Mark Pilgrim and Adrienne Watkins during a slideshow during his memorial service. Picture: HOT 102.7FM

A picture of Mark Pilgrim and Adrienne Watkins during a slideshow during his memorial service. Picture: HOT 102.7FM

Published Mar 10, 2023


Family, friends and colleagues on Friday morning gathered to pay tribute to celebrated broadcaster Mark Pilgrim at a memorial at the Country Club in Johannesburg.

The former HOT 102.7FM presenter lost his battle with cancer last week Sunday.

The memorial started promptly at 9:41, which his fiancée Adrienne Watkins explained was in celebration of her “whiz kid” and thought it would be quite apt that the memorial started at the universal time the Apple events do the big reveal.

Pilgrim was a huge Apple lover, and this was a gesture to celebrate the tech geek in him.

During the memorial, five sentimental songs were played, including John Waite’s “Missing You” and Rod Stewart’s “Baby Jane”.

Mark Pilgrim’s family light candles at his memorial service. Picture: HOT 102.7FM

The memorial service proceedings were led by Reverend Shona Fleming, and various friends and colleagues took to the podium and shared their fond memories of Pilgrim and words of comfort to Watkins, his daughters Tayla-Jean, 12, and Alyssa, 10, who he shares with ex-wife, Nicole Torres.

Long-time friend Kevin Cook shared his fond memories of how Pilgrim would visit him at his office in Sandton with food in hand and recalled the story of how Torres caught Pilgrim’s eye, and he made the mistake of saying through the mic while off-air that she was beautiful, which she ended up hearing.

Cook and Pilgrim were best men at each other’s wedding, and Cook shared how Pilgrim had hopes of walking his daughters down the aisle.

Cook also recalled how Pilgrim showed him the video of Watkins doing karaoke and let him know how beautiful she was. Cook shared that he was sad that they would not be able to have another destination wedding.

He also touched on how he never heard Pilgrim complaining throughout his battle with cancer and fought on.

Julian Ortlepp also shared that Pilgrim was always happy and positive throughout and praised Watkins for taking such good care of Pilgrim, getting him the best doctors, finding him special mattresses for him to lay on, where she would lay next to him and even convinced him to have foot massages, which was something he was not fond of.

Adrienne Watkins lights a candle at Mark Pilgrim’s memorial service. Picture: HOT 102.7FM

HOT 102.7FM station founder and managing director Lloyd Madurai recalled how Pilgrim called him in mid-2014 and wanted to join the station after having announced to the public he was quitting radio. Madurai explained he told Pilgrim him sure, but he could not pay him.

Pilgrim’s only request was to play 80s and 90s hits, and that’s how his 10-year journey at the station began.

Madurai revealed that while Pilgrim was passionate about radio and music and was very much the professional, he had a few quirks as he was very OCD, with everything having a place.

He was consistent with his lunch, which was always tuna and boiled eggs, which wasn’t a hit with his colleagues he shared the studio with.

He had a phobia of feet and could hold a conversation about anything.

Pilgrim’s colleague, Simon Parkinson, revealed that the seasoned broadcaster, before going off-air, underwent chemotherapy for nine months and would be battling with nausea but never revealed this to listeners. Instead, he did his shows like the true professional he was.

Parkinson shared that while he could handle the tuna and boiled eggs in the studio, he told Pilgrim that he would not be able to handle vomit, and Pilgrim said he would try his hardest.

The two then came up with a bet that every time Pilgrim would manage not to vomit he would get a bottle of his favourite wine, Chocolate Block, and he gave him nine bottles until the sickness took over and he unable to come to the studio.

Mark Pilgrim’s children sit front row at his memorial service. Picture: HOT 102.7FM

He bought along two bottles, 10 and 11, which he gave to Torres and Watkins, respectively, to open at their own time when they are ready and celebrate the life of Pilgrim.

When Watkins came to the podium, the song “You Had Me from Hello” by K. Chesney played.

Watkins shared how Pilgrim dedicated the song to her when they first met and recalled slow dancing with him in the kitchen to the song, describing the moment as something out of a fairytale.

In her farewell tribute, Watkins spoke of how the last three years of her life had been the best of her existence and how she knew from the very beginning that this is the love she had been waiting for.

She recalled how she and Pilgrim became inseparable and how he was an old-school gentleman who, even in his last weeks, ordered her flowers.

Watkins recalled the fond memories they were able to create as a family,such as Friday dinners at the pizzeria and game drives with his daughters, who were his world.

“My beautiful Mark, I thank you for our love story, the adventure of a lifetime, the incredible memories. The privilege and honour that I've had to love you, to walk this last chapter with you, to take care of you, and above all, to be loved by you.

“The rawness and sincerity of what we shared is enough to fill me a lifetime. My baby, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't change it for the world. Within the numbered days you gave me forever, and for this, I will be eternally grateful.

“We will never stop believing but now it’s time to fly, to be with your beautiful mom and to have all that you ever wanted, peace.

“Goodbye my lover. Goodbye my friend. You have been the greatest soundtrack to my life, and, for this, I thank you. I will never stop loving you, my Mark, my best friend, my soulmate, my hero.”

Candles were lit by family and friends in Pilgrim’s honour, and the memorial ended with performances from Ross Learmonth and Craig Heyns.

Mark Pilgrim memorial service. Picture: HOT 102.7FM