Tributes paid to Shipston politician Dame Tessa Jowell

Dame Tessa Jowell
Dame Tessa Jowell

Tributes have been flooding in for former cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell after she died at her home near Shipston on Saturday (May 12), aged 70.

The ex-Labour politician had been battling brain cancer for a year and her family thanked Shipston Home Nursing for its ‘expert’ palliative care over the past few days.

Dame Tessa played a major role in bringing the Olympic Games to London in 2012 as culture secretary and was also a member of the House of Lords.

Since her cancer diagnosis last May, she campaigned for more cancer treatments to be made available through the NHS.

In a statement, her family said it is ‘with great sadness, and an enormous sense of loss’ to announce Dame Tessa’s death at around 10pm on Saturday.

“The family would like to thank people for the overwhelming support Tessa and they have received since she became ill,” the statement said.

“They have been touched and moved by the response, in both Houses of Parliament; from members of the public; and other cancer patients and their families around the world.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair led the tributes, saying: “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.”

Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: “RIP Tessa. I knew you as a colleague and a constituent. You were so welcoming to me in parliament. I will miss you very much. Your work and your memory will live on forever.”

Lord Sebastian Coe, who was chairman of the committee behind the 2012 Games, said there would have been no Olympics in London without Dame Tessa.

“Without her the sporting landscape of the UK would have looked very different, and so many other tangible legacies left dormant,” he added.

Brain Tumour Charity chief executive Sarah Lindsell said: “Tessa Jowell’s courage and honesty in speaking about her brain tumour diagnosis, coupled with her fierce determination to improve the lives of others affected by the disease, has already brought hope to an often-forgotten community of patient and families.

“As at so many times in her life, she has been an extraordinary driving force for change. Her passionate support for more flexible clinical trials for brain tumour patients, and for global data-sharing to improve understanding of the disease, will have a real and lasting impact in our quest for a cure.”

Dame Tessa was MP for Dulwich and West Norwood in London from 1992 to 2015, serving in multiple ministries and cabinets for the Labour governments in the 2000s.

She entered the House of Lords in 2015 as Baroness Jowell of Brixton in 2015 after retiring from the House of Commons.