Deborah James: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer lead tributes following death of cancer campaigner

Dame Deborah's mum Heather said she was 'broken' following her passing, adding: 'Love you forever'

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Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer have led touching tributes to Dame Deborah James, who passed away yesterday aged 40.

The podcaster, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, died after spending her final weeks receiving end-of-life care at home with her husband, Sebastien, and their two children.

Mr Johnson paid tribute to Dame Deborah, saying that because of her, “many, many lives will be saved”.

In a tweet, the PM wrote: “I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many.

Deborah James
Deborah James

“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.”

While Labour leader Sir Keir described Dame Deborah’s work as “truly inspirational”.

He 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.”

Boris Johnson described Dame Deborah as an "inspiration to many"
Boris Johnson described Dame Deborah as an "inspiration to many"
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer also paid tribute to Bowelbabe
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer also paid tribute to Bowelbabe

Dame Deborah’s mum Heather said her heart was “broken” as a result of the news.

Heather shared a series of photos of Dame Deborah on Twitter and wrote: “My heart is broken. Love you forever.”

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said Dame Deborah had a “special gift” that allowed her to have “difficult conversations” about bowel cancer with the public.

She said: “She has shone a very powerful light on it but her warmth and her compassion, her energy and her humour, really connected with people and made something which is often difficult to talk about okay to talk about.

“That has been her special gift – to connect with others and to have those difficult conversations. And in doing so prompt people to take action, and she has saved countless lives.”

Dame Deborah’s passing was announced in an Instagram post from her family, saying: "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 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.'"