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Friends and colleagues pay tribute to Dame Deborah James who passed away after bowel cancer battle

Tributes have poured into Dame Deborah James after her family confirmed she has died aged 40 following a long battle with bowel cancer. 

Messages commended the mother-of-two for her inspiring fundraising, her ‘tireless’ campaigning and her incredible legacy. 

The podcaster and campaigner revealed in early May that she had stopped active treatment and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking, with her husband Sebastien and their two children on hand. 

In her final weeks, the presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C raised millions of pounds for research and was made a dame for her ‘tireless’ work improving awareness of the disease.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the thousands of tributes paid to the dedicated campaigner, hailing her as an ‘inspiration’ and said that because of her campaigning work ‘many, many lives will be saved’.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many.

BBC podcast host Deborah James has passed away following her five-year battle with bowel cancer, her family has announced in an Instagram post, which included this above photo

The death of podcast host Dame Deborah James at the age of 40 was announced by her family

The death of podcast host Dame Deborah James at the age of 40 was announced by her family

‘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.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said news of her death was ‘deeply sad’.

He added: ‘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.’

Her mother Heather said her heart is ‘broken’ following the death of her daughter aged 40 from bowel cancer.

Heather James, whose handle on the social media site is Bowelgran, shared a series of photos of Dame Deborah and wrote: ‘My heart is broken. Love you forever.’

Dame Deborah shared this image after an operation when she revealed cancer had returned

Dame Deborah shared this image after an operation when she revealed cancer had returned

Fans, politicians and celebrities also rushed to pay their respects to the inspirational campaigner.

Minister of State Michelle Donelan tweeted: ‘RIP Deborah James – a selfless inspiration. Thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.’

First Dates personality Fred Sirieix tweeted: ‘Deborah James passed away. Poor thing. RIP’

Meanwhile, Piers Morgan tweeted: ‘RIP Dame Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe. A truly remarkable and inspiring woman. Such sad news.’

Good Morning Britain host Charlotte Hawkins described Dame Deborah James as an ‘inspiration.’

She tweeted: ‘Oh no…heartbreaking news that @bowelbabe has left us. What an inspiration, a truly special person who saved lives & did so much to help others.

BBC podcast host Deborah James has passed away following her five-year battle with cancer

BBC podcast host Deborah James has passed away following her five-year battle with cancer

In recent weeks, she was made a dame by the Duke of Cambridge at her family home, with William praising her for 'going above and beyond to make a very special memory'

In recent weeks, she was made a dame by the Duke of Cambridge at her family home, with William praising her for ‘going above and beyond to make a very special memory’

‘Who showed that even a terminal diagnosis wasn’t going to stop her living life to the full. So much love to her family & friends.’

Carol Vorderman also paid tribute to Dame Deborah James, tweeting: ‘Rest in peace @Bowelbabe. Your incredible spirit will live on.’

BBC radio presenter Chris Stark tweeted that Dame Deborah had been an inspiration for many.

‘Dame Deborah James,’ he tweeted.

‘You inspired so many and did everything to the fullest. No one can do more than that. I hope we can have a gin wherever this all leads.

‘Thinking of your family and friends and everyone that is going through similar. Rest in Peace Debs x’

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner described Dame Deborah as an ‘extraordinary campaigner’.

She tweeted: ‘Rest in peace Deborah James. What an incredible, fierce, bright and brilliant woman.

‘An absolutely extraordinary campaigner. Thank you for your rebellious hope and the millions you have inspired @bowelbabe.

‘Thinking of your many loved ones’.

TV presenter Julia Bradbury said Dame Deborah was ‘the most incredible ambassador of life’.

She tweeted: ‘Heartbroken that Dame Deborah James has died.

‘She has been the most incredible ambassador of life & cancer campaigner.

‘My thoughts are with her family & children. Such a huge loss. Your bright light will shine on Deborah.’

TV presenter Gaby Roslin tweeted: ‘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.

‘My love to all of the family. Just so heartbreaking’.

Tributes also came from the bowel cancer charities that benefited from her work.

A tweet from Macmillan Cancer Support said: ‘We are so sad to hear that Deborah James has died, and our thoughts are with her family and many friends.

‘Deb has been an inspiration to us all. We’re so grateful for all of her generous support over the years, and her dedication to stand together with people with cancer.’

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, where Dame Deborah was a patron, said: ‘We’re deeply saddened that our patron Dame Deborah James has died, and our hearts go out to her family and everyone who knew and loved her. Deborah’s star shone bright; she was a true inspiration.

‘She turned her bowel cancer diagnosis into an incredible force for good and through her tireless campaigning to raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms, will have saved countless lives.

‘Deborah brought warmth, energy, and honesty to everything she did. Even during her most difficult times living with bowel cancer, she never stopped helping others.

Deborah (pictured with her children), parent to Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with her husband Sebastien, was constantly labelled 'inspirational' by fans after candidly sharing her struggles

 Deborah (pictured with her children), parent to Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, with her husband Sebastien, was constantly labelled ‘inspirational’ by fans after candidly sharing her struggles

 

‘We are truly grateful to have known Deborah and to call her our friend. She was a powerful patron for Bowel Cancer UK, and leaves a stunning legacy through her BowelBabe Fund, a testament to the love and admiration so many had for her.’

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said in a statement: ‘On behalf of the whole NHS I would like to offer my condolences to the family and many friends of Deborah James.

‘Deborah’s amazing attitude was humbling and a lesson to us all.

‘Not only will her fundraising have helped countless other cancer patients but her determination to raise awareness will undoubtedly have saved many lives.’

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tweeted: ‘Rest in peace Deborah James. What an incredible, fierce, bright and brilliant woman.

‘An absolutely extraordinary campaigner. Thank you for your rebellious hope and the millions you have inspired @bowelbabe. Thinking of your many loved ones.’

Comedian Mark Watson said Dame Deborah was ‘a person of unbelievable tenacity who turned the worst possible situation into an opportunity to inspire and educate’.

In her final weeks, Dame Deborah raised more than £6.7 million for research through her BowelBabe fund and was made a dame for her ‘tireless’ work improving awareness of the disease.

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