Dame Deborah James inspired others with sheer force of her spirit, says William

The Prince of Wales said we all need to “learn from and be inspired by” Dame Deborah James in a pre-recorded clip shown during the Stand Up To Cancer live show.

TV stars Davina McCall, Adam Hills, Joe Lycett and Munya Chawawa hosted a 90-minute takeover at The Francis Crick Institute to celebrate 10 years of the appeal for Cancer Research UK.

During the broadcast on Channel 4, William appeared in a clip to praise Dame Deborah who died in June 2022 at the age of 40 after suffering from bowel cancer.

Deborah James damehood
Screengrab taken from the Instagram feed of Deborah James (Deborah James/bowelbabe/Instagram)

He said: “Dame Deborah James was one of those special people who can unite and inspire others with the sheer force of her spirit.

“She encouraged us all to live life to the fullest, to tackle the toughest challenges with strength and bravery and to rally together to stand up to cancer.”

Dame Deborah set up the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK which has raised more than £10 million and for her efforts she was made a dame.

Her damehood was conferred by William, who joined her family for afternoon tea and champagne at home before her death last year.

Damehoods are usually handed out by members of the royal family at investiture ceremonies which take place at royal palaces, including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

“It was an honour to meet Deborah and her family and present her with her damehood,” William continued.

“I’ll never forget her kindness, warmth, honesty and humour in adversity. Let’s all learn from and be inspired by her passion for life.”

William said You, Me And The Big C podcast host Dame Deborah “truly made a difference to the lives of so many” by breaking down taboos around having symptoms checked.

He added: “In the months leading up to, and after her death, the NHS saw a substantial increase in the number of people being referred for bowl cancer checks in England.

“Millions of pounds are raised in Deborah’s name for the BowelBabe fund for Cancer Research UK and associated charities which would have given more people affected by cancer more time with the people they love.

“Deborah’s legacy continues to help break down stigma’s and ultimately help people live longer lives.”

Stand Up To Cancer
Davina McCall presented the live show for Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C/Channel 4/PA)

During the show, host Davina McCall also spoke with Dame Deborah’s parents Heather and Alistair, who said she “loved” the day William visited her.

Alistair said: “Prince William, Deborah’s husband, Deborah, they are all from the same generation, they are all within two or three years of each other and so when he was with them it was people of the same age group talking with a common theme.”

Meanwhile, Heather said Dame Deborah’s children, Eloise and Hugo, are coping well a year after their mother’s death.

She said: “They’re doing really well but I think that’s because Deborah prepared them, along with Seb, they knew all along Mummy had limited time and towards the end they were there with her the whole time and I think amazing.

“I am so proud of them how they are coping with it and Deborah said to them ‘don’t use me dying as an excuse to mess up your life’.”