Deborah James had a ‘special gift’ to connect with the public, says charity boss
Dame Deborah James had a “special gift” which allowed her to have “difficult conversations” with the public that would ultimately save “countless lives”, a charity boss has said.
The podcaster, who died on Tuesday, became a patron for Bowel Cancer UK following her diagnosis in 2016 and worked to raise money for and awareness of the charity.
Its chief executive Genevieve Edwards told the PA news agency her legacy would live on through her campaigning work.
She said: “Deborah has been an incredible force for good, for our charity and others. Since the day of her diagnosis she has shone a bright light on bowel cancer.
“She hasn’t stopped in her tireless attempts to raise awareness. She has raised thousands and thousands of pounds for the causes close to her heart and even in the most difficult days personally for her she has never stopped helping others.
“Her star shone so bright and she will be missed by so many.”
Ms Edwards described Dame Deborah’s legacy as “huge” and said she had never seen so many conversations about bowel cancer taking place.
“She has shone a very powerful light on it,” she said.
“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.”
Ms Edwards encouraged the public to heed Dame Deborah’s advice when she encourage them to “Check your poo”.
She said: “It is one of the key symptoms of bowel cancer, when something doesn’t feel right for you.
“And she always urged people to act on anything that didn’t feel right because we know our bodies best.
“It was that ability to connect with so many people and to get a conversation going about something that lots of people find difficult, and maybe now don’t.
“I think that is a remarkable gift. She has been amazing, a really remarkable woman and she will be so missed.”
As well as Dame Deborah, Bowel Cancer UK counts Baroness Floella Benjamin, ITN presenter Charlene White and Hollywood star Tom Hardy among its patrons.
Tributes also came from cancer support charity Maggie’s.
Its chief executive, Dame Laura Lee, said: “We are all deeply saddened by the death of Deborah James.
“Deborah did so much to shine a light on what has always been a difficult and embarrassing cancer for people to talk about.
“Her legacy will be that many more people discuss concerns and symptoms with their GP, and we are already seeing people in our centres who have received a diagnosis thanks to her campaigning.”
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