Emmerdale’s cast and the stars of soapland have united to lead the tributes to Leah Bracknell, who has passed away after a three year battle with lung cancer.
Leah, 55, starred as Zoe Tate from 1989 to 2005 and was part of the legendary Tate family, breaking new ground for television by playing the first lesbian character in a British soap.
‘It is with the deepest sadness that Leah Bracknell’s family confirm that Leah passed away in September, three years after her diagnosis with stage four lung cancer,’ said her manager on 16 October.
‘They would like to thank all the public for their support and generosity which contributed to the extension and quality of her life over the past three years. Leah continued to embrace life and faced her illness with positivity. Many aspects of her journey can be found on her blog.’
As well as acting, Leah was also an accomplished yoga teacher and shamanic healer.
Lisa Riley, who has recently returned to Emmerdale as the troublesome Mandy Dingle, ws one of the first to remember her old workmate, writing: ‘GOD BLESS YOU LEAH. a true angel to work with. You lost your battle far far to young. R.I.P. heaven gains an angel of the truest form.’
Sally Ann Matthews, Sandra Briggs in Emmerdale, also sent her condolences, stating that the world has ‘lost some of its sparkle’ after Leah was laid to rest in September.
Coronation Streets Sally Dyvenor said: ‘So sorry to hear Leah Bracknell passed away. Such a beautiful person and an inspiration to many #so shockedtooyoung’
Leah was known for her positive outlook in the wake of her diagnosis and gave inspirational interviews where she vowed to live her life to the full and said that she found a great deal of comfort from messages of support from fans. Leah rose to fame playing complicated vet Zoe from 1989, a role in which she stayed for 16 years.
Her storylines included her coming out as gay, battling schizophrenia, a long running war with her stepmum Kim and an affair with Charity.
Born Alison Rosalind Bracknell in 1964, Leah leaves behind two children and her partner Jez Hughes.
Non smoker Leah also penned a poem about her condition, which she posted on Facebook. It read: ‘I got me a butterfly net to catch me all the love and beauty and wishes and dreams and black cat kinda luck. ‘And fire in my belly, honey in my heart kind of memories that melt my sweet heart and take away the pain.
‘I spy me a sky full of blessings coming my way. Net at the ready, I raise my head for a kiss. And here they come.’
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