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'Inspirational and loyal' Dame Tessa Jowell loses fight with brain cancer

By Ellie Cullen

Former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has spoken of his sadness at the death of former cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell.

Dame Tessa, who played a major role in securing the 2012 London Olympics, passed away on Saturday, aged 70.

She had been diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour in May last year and suffered a haemorrhage on Friday. She had been in a coma until her death on Saturday, her family said.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "The dignity and courage with which Dame Tessa Jowell confronted her illness was inspirational.

"My sympathies to her loving family - Dame Tessa's campaigning on brain cancer research is a lasting tribute to a lifetime of public service."

A popular figure in Parliament, Dame Tessa was employment minister and minister for women, before joining the cabinet as culture secretary in 2001, during which she helped bring the Olympic Games to London.

She also championed the SureStart initiative, which aimed to give children the best possible start in life through improvements and better access to child care, early education, health and family support.

Recently Dame Tessa moved fellow peers to tears as she used the House of Lords as a platform to discuss her condition and call for patients to have better access to experimental treatment.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was devastated at the news of Dame Tessa's death, adding: "Her strength in raising awareness of her illness and fighting for better treatment for others inspired us all."

Mr Brokenshire, who stepped down as Northern Ireland secretary after being diagnosed with lung cancer, said having known Dame Tessa was a "privilege".

He tweeted: "So very saddened by the news that Tessa Jowell has passed away. Tessa's unstinting passion to secure positive change for others even in the face of her own physical adversity is an inspiration to us all."

Labour peer Lord Hain, a second former Secretary of State, said she was "perhaps the nicest person at the top of politics in her prime who combined decency with steely determination".

Sir Menzies Campbell, former Liberal Democrat leader and member of the Olympic Board which had oversight of London 2012, said Dame Tessa was "regarded with both admiration and affection".

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "Tessa had passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known.

"She was an inspiration to work with, and a joy to be near. She was the most wise of counsellors, the most loyal and supportive of colleagues, and the best of friends."

Many figures in the sporting world also paid tribute, with Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent tweeting: "RIP Tessa Jowell- absolutely central to the effort to win and stage the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012."

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