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Tragic Tara Palmer-Tomkinson frail and in dark place before death, says close pal Ivan Massow

By Sherna Noah

Tragic Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was in a dark place when she died, a close friend of the socialite has claimed.

The former 'It girl' was found dead aged 45 at her London home just months after revealing she had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Ivan Massow, the former chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), told ITV's This Morning he and Tara became "unlikely friends" after they "hit it off" when they shared a car to a charity event at Ascot.

"It was amazing and we were inseparable and remained close ever since," he said.

But he revealed that in recent weeks it had been difficult to get hold of Palmer-Tomkinson, who because of her years of drug abuse underwent reconstructive surgery in 2006 after her septum collapsed.

"She was facing a lot of problems," Massow added. "One, it was very hard for her to stay off the drinking and things, and then there was lots of surgery around her mouth and bits and pieces - her nose kept giving her problems.

"She was terribly conscious about that, and then there was this (tumour) on top, so it was another worry. And she was never comfortable becoming an older person. It was hard for her to see herself in that role and she was very frail.

"I hadn't seen her for over a month, and it's been hard to reach her.

"With people like this, you have to sort of let go with love... you can't badger them."

Asked if he thought Palmer-Tomkinson had returned to a "dark place", Massow replied: "Well, I know that every time I didn't hear from her, that's where she was."

This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby also spoke about her time with the socialite, revealing that Palmer-Tomkinson (below) gave her a Chanel diamond ring, on a whim, the first time they met.

"She just had that special energy about her," Willoughby said. "She was just so funny and incredibly kind.

"I always remember that she was very generous with her time, but with her spirit also.

"The first time I met her ... I was having dinner and she came over to my table and said, 'You know a very good friend of mine'. We started chatting and as she's talking to me, she's gesticulating with her hands, and I noticed this diamond bling, gorgeous ring, and I'm like watching her hand like a magpie and said, 'Your ring is beautiful'.

"She said, 'Oh this, this is just a bit of tat from Chanel', and she dropped it in my champagne glass and went, 'It's yours'. I said, 'No, I can't take that', and she replied, 'If you don't take it, I'll throw it across the restaurant'."

Palmer-Tomkinson revealed in November that she was being treated for a non-malignant growth in her pituitary gland and expressed fears that she would die after being told of her condition.

She was diagnosed with the tumour last January after she returned from a ski trip.

Author Santa Montefiore, Palmer-Tomkinson's sister, posted a black and white photograph of the socialite smiling on Twitter, and wrote alongside it: "My darling sister. I miss you."

Montefiore also used a heartbroken emoji in her online message.

Palmer-Tomkinson's body was removed from her home on a trolley, placed into a private ambulance and driven away on Wednesday evening.

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