Emotional Lorraine Kelly in tears during heartfelt tribute to friend Dame Deborah James: ‘It still doesn’t feel quite real’

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Lorraine Kelly became visibly emotional after remembering ‘powerhouse’ Dame Deborah James following the devastating news of her death.

Dame Deborah died surrounded by her family on Tuesday just weeks after she revealed she had stopped active treatment for bowel cancer and was receiving end-of-life care at her parents’ home in Woking.

Celebrities have shown the You Me And The Big C podcaster an outpouring of love, with the likes of Piers Morgan and BBC Radio 1’s Adele Roberts, who was recently given the all-clear following her battle with disease, saying that her ‘heart hurts’.

The 62-year-old presenter wore a pink jacket, a nod to Dame Deborah’s favourite colour and a t-shirt with the words ‘Rebellious Hope’ and hailed the late podcaster as a ‘truly remarkable woman.’

After opening her titular show with a touching tribute, an emotional Lorraine simply said: ‘Love her.’

Lorraine spoke to a friend of Dame Deborah’s Steve Bland via video message and the host struggled to hold back the tears.

The presenter paid a heartwarming tribute to the late Deborah James (Picture: ITV)

‘Sorry. Just seeing that. We knew this was going to happen, but it still doesn’t feel quite real,’ she said.

In her final weeks, Dame Deborah raised millions of pounds for research and was made a dame for her ‘tireless’ work improving awareness of the disease.

A statement posted by her family on Instagram 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.

Dame Deborah James
Dame Deborah was surrounded by her family in her final moments (Picture: Instagram/bowelbabe)

‘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.’

The statement continued: ‘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.”’

The late star had undergone many operations and treatments, including experimental drugs, throughout her bowel cancer battle, including a stay in hospital in July 2021 after finding out an aggressive new tumour near her liver had wrapped itself around her bile duct, causing an infection.

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In May, Dame Deborah moved into end-of-life hospice care. During the final months of her life, she launched the Bowelbabe fund for Cancer Research UK, which has so far raised more than £6million.

In recognition of her incredible efforts, she received a Damehood, and received a visit from Prince William who heaped praise on the star.

Lorraine airs weekdays at 9am on ITV.

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