Dame Deborah James’s kids lead funeral procession during emotional send-off to inspirational Sun star
DAME Deborah James’s children Hugo and Eloise led her funeral procession today as celebs joined hundreds paying respects to the inspirational cancer campaigner.
Brave Hugo, 14, carried his mum’s wicker coffin along with Debs’ husband Sebastien, father Alistair and brother Benjamin.
The casket was adorned with stunning white roses named in Sun writer Debs’s honour.
For each Dame Deborah James rose sold, £2.50 is donated to the BowelBabe fund — which today had raised £7.4million for cancer charities in her memory.
In her final days, Debs raised millions for the newly- launched fund which Cancer Research UK will help allocate to causes she cared about most.
Her coffin arrived in a 1936 Rolls-Royce hearse with members of her family following behind before the 1pm service at St Mary’s church in Barnes, South West London.
Presenter Lorraine Kelly, 62, and TV star Gaby Roslin, 58, arrived to pay her respects to their friend.
McFly singer Tom Fletcher and wife Giovanna, both 37, also joined the congregation which gathered to give Debs a send off.
Her parents Heather and Alistair, her sister Sarah Wierczorek, and her brother Benjamin and his fiancée Ashley Hall supported each other at the service.
In The Style founder Adam Frisby and his partner Jamie Corbett also attended the funeral after recently celebrating raising more than £1million for the Bowelbabe fund from their Rebellious Hope t-shirts.
One family arrived with flowers and a note which read: “Deborah thank you to our most extraordinary friend.
“You, together with Sebastien, Hugo and Eloise are such an important part of our families lives. We will love and miss you forever and will carry you with us always.”
Tearful members of the public gathered outside the small chapel as the procession arrived this afternoon.
Sebastien delivered an eulogy and family friend and classically-trained jazz singer Natalie Rushdie, who is married to novelist Salman Rushdie’s son Zafar, sang Tell Me It’s Not True from the musical Blood Brothers.
Hugo, Eloise, 12, and Debs’s sister Sarah read poems, while cellist Charles Watt played Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus by Olivier Messiaen and Après un rêve by Gabriel Fauré.
Family friend Sarah Mountford read the ‘a time for everything’ passage from the book of Ecclesiastes.
- Donate here to keep raising money for Deborah’s BowelBabe fund
After the service, led by The Reverend David Cooke, the family exited the chapel in silence and bowed their heads as Dame Deborah’s coffin was driven away.
Sebastien wiped a tear from his face and the family hugged as the hearse left the church.
The congregation then continued to a private wake at the Olympic Studios cafe in Barnes.
Benjamin wrote a touching online tribute to his “big sis” before the funeral. He said: “Big sis, Debs. Thank you for teaching me how to live life to the full since the day I was born — you made me find that life worth enjoying!
“Saying bye is never going to be easy, but knowing you achieved more than any of us could ever dream of…and so, so much more…makes it that little bit more bearable.
“Your legacy will go on forever and we’ll do our very best to make you proud.
“Take it easy up there. Here’s to you x.”
Deborah was told at her diagnosis in December 2016 that her cancer was inoperable, and given an eight per cent chance of survival over five years.
After being diagnosed with stage four cancer, Dame Debs wrote candidly in The Sun, and spoke on BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C about her treatment and encouraged others to check their symptoms before it is too late.
She defied the odds with a fighting spirit, hit her 40th birthday, and dedicated her time to campaigning.
By the time her cancer had become terminal in May this year Debs had become a national hero.
She was given a Damehood by Prince William in her parent’s back garden after a Sun campaign.
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