Jonnie Irwin’s wife says ‘me and the boys still need you’ in emotional tribute

Co-stars Laura Hamilton and Jasmine Harman were also among those remembering the presenter following the news of his death, aged just 50.

Naomi Clarke
Saturday 03 February 2024 11:17 GMT
Jonnie Irwin has died aged 50 (Alamy/PA)
Jonnie Irwin has died aged 50 (Alamy/PA)

Jonnie Irwin’s wife Jessica has said “me and the boys still need you” in an emotional tribute following the death of the TV presenter at the age of 50.

The TV star, who presented A Place In The Sun and BBC’s Escape To The Country, announced in November 2022 that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020 and that it had since spread to his brain.

His co-stars Laura Hamilton and Jasmine Harman were also among those to remember Irwin as “without doubt one of the best”.

Irwin’s wife Jessica, who he shares three sons with – Rex, and twins Rafa and Cormac – confirmed the news with a heartfelt Instagram post which featured a photo of the late presenter laughing with a small cake lit in front of him.

“Good night my favourite. Thank you for everything. I will always love you,” she wrote.

“The hardest day has come, a day I prayed wouldn’t come.”

She said his “magical brain” continued to fight until the end and that he had given her more than she could have “ever have wished for” including “8 bonkers years of love and adventure and 3 amazing boys”.

“I will continue to make you proud but only with your love still finding me and guiding me for the rest of my life, me and the boys still need you,” she added.

“Jonnie you really were the most handsome man I ever knew and I am so sorry for this cruel end.

“It really wasn’t fair and you didn’t deserve any of this.

“You gave so much time to others and touched everyone you met, I have never experienced anything like the effect you had on people.

“I love you so much and forever proud of you xxx”

His former Escape To The Country co-stars Nicki Chapman and Sonali Shah were among those to offer their support, with Chapman saying: “Jess you and your boys were everything to Jonnie”.

She added: “Whenever he spoke about you, his eyes shone like a man truly in love. Sending love to you and all the family. I’m so so sorry.”

Shah also shared her condolences as she hailed Irwin as the “life and soul of the Escape To The Country family”.

Alongside the tribute she posted a photo of Irwin celebrating his 50th birthday early last year with his family and friends as he had been told he would not make the milestone.

She recalled: “We all danced, reminisced and celebrated life. And most importantly, we were mischievous, just like him.”

Irwin’s A Place In The Sun co-presenter Hamilton remembered him as “without doubt one of the best” in an Instagram post.

“Funny, intelligent, kind hearted, one of a kind, Jonnie you will forever be missed. Hamo xxx”, she added alongside a black and white photo of the presenter.

The show also posted the same photo as it said the team were “heartbroken” at the news of his death.

It added: “Jonnie was a much-loved part of the A Place In The Sun family for more than 18 years – he brought joy, wit and bundles of energy to the show. We will miss him terribly.”

His long-time A Place In The Sun co-star Harman said the world was going to be a “little darker” following his death as she paid tribute to her “partner in crime”.

She remembered him as “charismatic and energetic” as well as how his “cheeky-chappy persona and naughty sense of humour” put others at ease as she reflected on their time working together.

“To begin our TV careers together was a pleasure and a privilege I will be eternally grateful for,” she added in a lengthy post to Instagram.

“Almost twenty years ago, as two nervous new presenters (me perhaps more nervous than you!) little did we know about the adventure we were about to embark on, and the friends we would become.”

Speaking on Irwin’s other role, as a father, she said: “Never were you happier than in your role as husband and dad to the most awesome three boys – you are a legend.”

“We can, in your memory learn to cherish every hug, every conversation, every moment, for the priceless time we have,” she added.

“Enjoy every breath, every sunrise and sunset, never take anything for granted, because tomorrow is not promised.

“Jonnie, you’ve taught me so much in our time as work colleagues and as good friends.

“I have never admired you more than over the last few years as you’ve faced life with cancer with positivity, determination and bloody mindedness.

“I’ve never known anyone as strong as you. You have done yourself, your loved ones and all of us proud.”

Channel 4 said Irwin would be “greatly missed” and Rob Unsworth, head of BBC daytime and early peak commissioning, remembered Irwin as “an extraordinary man and wonderful presenter”.

The property expert started off presenting what was then called A Place In The Sun: Home Or Away? with Harman in 2004.

A Place In The Sun helps couples who want to move from the UK to find a home abroad with sun, sea and sand.

Irwin also starred in Channel 4’s Renovation Game, which ran for three seasons from 2011, and saw builders and designers put their fees on the line if they did not raise the property value of a house during a revamp.

When he disclosed his lung cancer diagnosis in 2022, the TV presenter said the first warning sign was while he was filming A Place In The Sun in Italy in August 2020, when his vision became blurry while driving.

Within a week of flying home, he was given six months to live.

In 2023, Irwin decided to celebrate his 50th birthday early with a big bash for 170 friends and family.

“It was a great night. I chose a playlist with some great tunes from the 90s and 2000s and people came from all over the country and abroad,” he told The Sun.

A spokesman for the family announced the news on Friday, saying in a statement: “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Jonnie’s passing.

“A truly remarkable soul, he fought bravely against cancer with unwavering strength and courage.

“Jonnie touched the lives of so many with his kindness, warmth, and infectious spirit.

“At this time, we kindly ask for the privacy of Jonnie’s family as they navigate through this profound loss.”

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