Celebrities pay tribute to Dame Deborah James after cancer campaigner’s death

The cancer campaigner died on Tuesday 28 June aged 40

Celebrities have taken to social media to pay tribute to Dame Deborah James after the campaigner died from bowel cancer at age 40.

James’ death was announced by her family on Tuesday 28 June, who said: “We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy. Deborah passed away peacefully today, surrounded by her family.

“Deborah, who many of you will know as Bowelbabe, was an inspiration and we are incredibly proud of her and her work and commitment to charitable campaigning, fundraising and her endless efforts to raise awareness of cancer that touched so many lives.

“Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer. Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring.

“We thank you for giving us time in private as a family, and we look forward to continuing Deborah’s legacy long into the future through the @bowelbabefund

“Thank you for playing your part in her journey, you are all incredible.

“And a few final things from Deborah… ‘find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope. And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.’ x”

Prior to her death James was awarded a damehood on Thursday 12 May after raising over £6m for Cancer Research UK through her BowelBabe Fund.

At the time, James said she was “honoured and blown away” by the damehood.

“I don’t even know where to start with the overwhelming tears getting in the way. I’m humbled and blown away that five years of talking about poo can lead to a damehood!” she wrote.

In a statement about James’ damehood on Thursday 12 May, prime minister Boris Johnson said: “If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it. Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage has been a source of strength to so many people.”

Since her diagnosis, the educator-turned-campaigner launched a podcast, wrote a column for The Sun, and authored two books about the disease.

Following James’ death, celebrities have been quick to pay tribute to the journalist, who was first diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2016.

Lorraine Kelly

Lorraine Kelly posted a moving tribute to her “dear friend” Deborah James in the hours following James’ death.

“We will remember Dame Deborah as a dear friend of the Lorraine show and as the heart and soul of our bowel cancer campaign No Butts. She leaves a lasting legacy and has saved countless lives through all the work she did to break the ‘poo taboo’,” the Instagram post read.

Susanna Reid

TV presenter Susanna Reid commented under the post from James’ family.

She wrote: “Sending your family all of my love - what an incredible woman.”

Keir Starmer

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer tweeted: “Deeply sad news. Dame Deborah James’ charity work was truly inspirational — even in the most challenging moments, she continued to raise awareness about bowel cancer and impacted so many people’s lives.

“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”

Katie Piper

TV personality Katie Piper also commented under the post from James’ family.

She wrote: “You will never be forgotten Deborah. All your hard work, campaigning and infectious spirit lives on.”

Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan said: “RIP Dame Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe. A truly remarkable and inspiring woman. Such sad news.”

Grace Victory

Influencer Grace Victory wrote: “Dame Deborah James, your legacy will live on. Rest easy.”

Boris Johnson

The prime minister said he was “saddened” to hear of James’ passing.

He tweeted: “I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many.

“The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy.

“Because of her, many many lives will be saved.”

Candice Brown

Bake Off star Candice Brown wrote under the post on James’ Instagram page: “Fly high angel, you will always be remembered.”

Adele Roberts

BBC Radio 1 presenter Adele Roberts posted a photograph of James on her Instagram page and added a broken heart emoji in the caption.

Roberts, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer last October and announced this week that she is cancer free, wrote: “Thank you for everything Deborah. Thank you for being so strong for so long and helping others when you were in so much pain yourself.

“You are the best of us. Thinking of your family and friends and I am forever grateful to you for helping me and my family. Rebellious hope forever.”

Giovanna Fletcher

Author and podcast host Giovanna Fletcher posted an old selfie with James on her Instagram account in tribute and wrote in the caption that she felt “deep sadness” at her passing.

Genevieve Edwards

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “[James] never stopped raising awareness. Bowel cancer is something people find difficult to talk about often and don’t really ... they find it a little bit embarrassing.

“She’s stripped all of that away and shone a powerful light on it.”

Sajid Javid

The secretary of state for health and social care, Sajid Javid, tweeted: “RIP Dame Deborah. Her exceptional campaign to help those living with cancer won the whole nation’s admiration, and started important conversations about living with the ‘big C’.

“She leaves behind an incredible legacy, and my thoughts are with her loved ones.”

Gaby Roslin

TV host Gaby Roslin said in a tweet: “Bye bye my beautiful friend Deborah. You will forever shine so brightly. Thank you for all you did. For the laughter, the dancing and most importantly for all you did in your short lifetime for others.”

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