Former Big Brother contestant Orlaith McAllister last night joined warm tributes paid to Jade Goody, praising her fun-filled personality.
The Belfast model, who ran the London Marathon with Jade in 2006, said she was particularly sad to hear of the fellow reality television star’s death from cervical cancer on Mother’s Day.
“To wake up on Mother’s Day and hear that Jade had passed away was so very sad.
“I had the joy of waking up yesterday to my daughter Eva’s hugs and kisses, while poor Jade’s boys slept as she passed away. But she did everything for those boys and has left a great legacy for them by working so hard — even throughout her illness — to secure their future, albeit just the financial side of things.
“Their dad Jeff Brazier is brilliant and I’m sure he’ll do a fabulous job in raising the boys and maintaining their mother’s memory.”
Orlaith, who starred in Big Brother 6, three years after Jade shot to fame through the reality show, said her own memory of Jade “is that she was always so full of life and fun”.
“When we ran the marathon together in 2006 she wore tennis shoes just to get the attention of the press and to have a bit of fun at all the sporty people, because she just wasn’t like that and never pretended to be anything other than the loud-mouthed, cheeky and silly girl who came from nowhere to steal a nation’s hearts,” she said.
“Her passing has reinforced the importance of the most precious things in life for me — family and friends. Spending time with my own daughter Eva and the new son I’m about to have means more to me than celebrity parties and material things.
“Living life to the full is also important and, like Jade and so many others around the country, I’m a mother first and foremost and it’s all about love at the end of the day.”\[Stephen Alexander\]
Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionist Party also offered condolences to Jade’s widower Jack Tweed and her two young sons.
The UUP's health spokesman John McCallister said the 27-year-old’s death “is a reminder to all of us that cancer is no respecter of age, background, culture, profession or celebrity”.
“It can strike at any time and mostly without warning,” he said.
"It is particularly poignant that Jade Goody should have passed away on Mothering Sunday: a day when we celebrate that special bond between a mother and her children.
"And what more fitting tribute could there be to Jade's short life than that it should encourage women of all ages to book themselves in for cancer screenings.”
Mr McCallister urged women across Northern Ireland to arrange for regular screens and smears.
“Most cancers can be dealt with if they are diagnosed early and treated quickly,” he said.
"On behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party I would pass on our sympathy to her husband and children. If her death means that other women will now have tests for cancer and get any necessary treatment, then Jade Goody will be fondly and rightly remembered.”
See Fiona Sturgis, Page 27