Eurovision’s first lady dies aged 94

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The first person to win the Eurovision Song Contest, Lys Assia, has died at the age of 94, competition organisers have announced.

She took the prize for Switzerland in 1956, with the song Refrain, and went on to perform in two more contests.

Lys Assia died on Saturday at the Zollikerberg Hospital in Zurich.

Eurovision described her as the “first lady” of the competition, and said it planned further tributes to her in the coming days.

Assia’s triumph in the first-ever Eurovision came in Lugano, Switzerland. She finished eighth in the 1957 contest but achieved more success a year later, coming second with her song, Giorgio.

Born in Rupperswil, northern Switzerland, in 1924, she began her career as a dancer before turning to singing.

Her association with Eurovision was long-lasting and in 2005 she performed in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

At the age of 87 she decided to return to the contest and tried – unsuccessfully – to represent Switzerland in 2012 and 2013.

Her death closely follows that of former Eurovision host Katie Boyle, who died at her home in the UK aged 91 last week.