Dame Deborah James: Mourners including Tom Fletcher look sombre as they attend the funeral of BBC presenter
A private ceremony was held on July 20 with close family and friends in attendance, as the cancer campaigner was laid to rest
Among the mourners were TV presenters Lorraine Kelly and Gaby Roslin as well as McFly’s Tom Fletcher and his wife Giovanna.
Following the You, Me and the Big C podcast host’s diagnosis in 2016, Dame Deborah kept her followers up to date on her treatments and inspired millions with her campaign to raise awareness for bowel cancer.
In her final months, almost £7 million was raised by her Bowelbabe fundraiser campaign for research, with the amount climbing higher following the announcement of her death on June 28.
Born in London, Deborah Anne James was a journalist, teacher, podcast host and charity campaigner.
Before her terminal diagnosis, Deborah worked at Salesian School in Chertsey as a deputy headteacher specialising in computer science and e-learning, as well as the Matthew Arnold School in Staines-Upon-Thames.
She started to document her cancer journey by working as a columnist for The Sun before starting the BBC Radio 5 podcast, You, Me and the Big C in March 2018 with fellow cancer patients Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland. In the same year, Deborah released her book titled “F*** You Cancer: How to Face the Big C, Live Your Life and Still Be Yourself”.
In May 2022, Dame Deborah launched a collaboration with In The Style who released a fashion line called ‘Rebellious Hope’ with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK.
For her tireless work in raising awareness to bowel cancer, James was made a dame conferred by the Duke of Cambridge at her home, weeks before her passing.
Stated in a social media post, Deborah passed away with her family by her side.
Deborah spent her final months with her parents Alistair and Heather James at their home in Woking.
She married Sebastien Bowen in 2008 who she had two children with namely Hugo, 14 and Eloise, 12.
Dame Deborah was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 - an illness that affects 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women.
The 40-year-old cancer campaigner, who became known as Bowelbabe from her social media handle, shared photos and videos documenting her dancing through treatment.
In June 2021, Dame Deborah said her cancer was moving “in the wrong direction” and the drugs she was relying on had become less effective, following numerous treatments.
After fighting the disease for six years, Bowelbabe posted an update of her illness in early May and revealed that she had stopped taking active treatment and was receiving palliative care at her parents’ home in Woking.
Dame Deborah received end-of-life care with her husband Sebastien and their two children by her side, before passing on June 28.
The private service in memory of the podcast host Dame Deborah took place on Wednesday July 20, nearly a month after she lost her battle with bowel cancer.
Close friends and family members arrived at St Mary’s Church in Barnes, south-west London, following a Rolls-Royce hearse before Deborah’s husband and son helped to carry her coffin inside ahead of the 1pm service.
Among Deborah’s closest companions were some UK celebrities including singer Natalie Rushdie, fellow podcaster Giovanna Fletcher and TV presenter Lorraine Kelly.
Lorraine Kelly and Gaby Roslin carried a wreath of flowers into the service with a note saying: “Deborah, thank you to our extraordinary friend. You together with Seb, Hugo and Eloise are such an important part of our family, we will love and miss you forever.”