Julia Bradbury leads ‘heartbroken’ stars paying tribute to ‘hero’ Deborah James after she dies aged 40

Julia Bradbury has led the "heartbroken" stars paying tribute to Deborah James following her death aged 40.

The journalist and broadcaster, who raised over £6.7 million for cancer research, "passed away peacefully" on Tuesday June 28 following a five-year battle with bowel cancer, her family announced in a devastating statement.

Tributes have been pouring in for Deborah, who is survived by her husband, Sebastian Bowen, and their two children, Hugo, 14 and Eloise, 12.

Taking to Twitter, presenter Julia Bradbury, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and has spread awareness on her platform, said she was "heartbroken" by Deborah’s death.

The TV star wrote: “Heartbroken that Dame Deborah James has died. She has been the most incredible ambassador of life & cancer campaigner. My thoughts are with her family & children. Such a huge loss. Your bright light will shine on Deborah.”

Adele Roberts, who was diagnosed with cancer in October 2021, wrote: “My heart hurts. Thank you for everything Deborah. Thank you for being so strong for so long and helping others when you were in so much pain yourself.

“You are the best of us. Thinking of your family and friends and I am forever grateful to you for helping me and my family. Rebellious hope forever”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also offered his condolences writing: “I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many.

“The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy. Because of her, many many lives will be saved.”

Piers Morgan wrote: “RIP Dame Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe. A truly remarkable and inspiring woman. Such sad news.”

Loose Women panellist Charlene White tweeted: “Cancer’s rubbish. Being a kid who loses a parent to cancer’s rubbish. Being a kid watching a parent fade away cos of cancer is rubbish. In the midst of all that Dame Deborah educated millions about cancer’s reality. I’m honoured to have shared the fight with her. Debs, thank-you.”

While Carol Vorderman said: “Rest in peace @Bowelbabe. Your incredible spirit will live on.”

Announcing her death, her family said in a statement shared to her Instagram on 28 June: "Dame Deborah James.

"We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy. Deborah passed away peacefully today, surrounded by her family.

"Deborah, who many of you will know as Bowelbabe, was an inspiration and we are incredibly proud of her and her work and commitment to charitable campaigning, fundraising and her endless efforts to raise awareness of cancer that touched so many lives."

The statement continued: "Deborah shared her experience with the world to raise awareness, break down barriers, challenge taboos and change the conversation around cancer. Even in her most challenging moments, her determination to raise money and awareness was inspiring."

Her family thanked Deborah's many fans and friends for their endless support as they shared: "We thank you for giving us time in private as a family, and we look forward to continuing Deborah’s legacy long into the future through the @bowelbabefund Thank you for playing your part in her journey, you are all incredible."

Sharing a brief note from Deborah herself, with her permission, prior to her death, they added: "And a few final things from Deborah…“find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope. And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.” x (Shared with Deborah’s permission)".

The journalist and broadcaster, who went by the nickname "bowel babe", devastatingly announced on 9 May that she had moved to end-of-life care. She explained that despite all of her treatments, her body just wasn’t “playing ball”, and that she was receiving hospice care at her parents' house.

Since that post, Deborah has raised a staggering £6.7million for cancer research through her JustGiving page and another £1million through her In The Style range. She's also been made a Dame and announced the release of a new book, How to Live When You Could be Dead, which went to number one in the Amazon best sellers list.


  • Dame Deborah James' inspiring life from spreading awareness to raising £6million as she dies age 40

  • Deborah James dies aged 40 after bowel cancer battle and heroic £6.7m fundraising

  • Deborah James raises £1million for cancer charity through In The Style sales
  • Deborah James shares heartbreak over how she 'won't see her son as a father'
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