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‘Courageous and brave’ Dame Tessa Jowell ‘smiling and laughing’ in final days

Her daughter, Jessie Mills, said it had been an ‘incredibly peaceful’ time, with the former Labour cabinet minister surrounded by her family.

The family of Dame Tessa Jowell have spoken movingly about her final days before her death at the weekend from a brain tumour.

Her daughter, Jessie Mills, said it had been an “incredibly peaceful” time, with the former Labour cabinet minister surrounded by her family.

“It is the greatest honour of my life to be her daughter. The way that she was until the last moment was just so courageous and brave,” Ms Mills told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“Just the day before she had her haemorrhage, her and dad were just walking down the beloved lane that we have outside our house. She was in the most wonderful spirits, smiling and laughing with dad and just having the most special time.

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Dame Tessa Jowell speaking in the House of Lords in London, after she was diagnosed last May with a high-grade brain tumour (PA)

“We were with her every single moment. We didn’t let her go for the whole of the last couple of days that she was very, very, very ill.

“We literally laid with her, next to her, kissing her, holding her, telling her how much we loved her and it was the honour of our lives to be her family.

“It was an incredibly peaceful time. Until the last moment she was the magnificent person, mother that we all know and just adore.”

Dame Tessa’s husband said that she had never given up hope of finding a cure for the disease. In the final days they had been looking to try to create a vaccine from the DNA of the tumour but it came too late.

He welcomed the Government’s announcement that it was doubling funding into brain cancer research in the wake of her death to £40 million over the next five years.

He told the Today programme she had an extraordinarily successful career in politics, noting how after the disease struck her “she added another 25% to it in what she has done to publicise the shortage of research for brain cancer and to give people hope they wouldn’t have had”.

He added: “She said if I can just survive two years at a time or even a year at a time new things will come along that will give us new hope.

“I think that is the message which is coming out now, that with this wonderful initiative from the Government there will be more impetus into the research that is necessary and people who suffer from this disease in future will have a growing chance to survive.”

Ms Mills added: “You try absolutely everything. And mum did because she was so brave and we all wanted to know, as did she, that no matter what happened there was no stone on this planet that was left unturned for her.

“At this time which is, honestly, surreal and incredibly painful for our family there is some solace knowing there is nothing more we could have done for her.”

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