'The most extraordinary mum': Touching tribute to Tessa Jowell as ashes are laid to rest

Emily Cleary
·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Labour Party politician Tessa Jowell speaks during a Labour party mayoral hustings on July 30, 2015 in London, England. The London Labour Party mayoral selection will decide which candidate stands in the mayoral election on 5 May 2016. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Family have paid tribute to 'the most extraordinary mum' Tessa Jowell as they laid her ashes to rest (Carl Court/Getty Images)

The family of former MP Tessa Jowell have launched a foundation in her name as they laid her ashes to rest.

In a moving Instagram post, Jowell’s daughter-in-law Eleanor Mills wrote: “As some of you may know, we lost Matt’s Mum to brain cancer two and a half years ago.

“Yesterday we laid her ashes, and today our family is so thrilled to announce the launch of the @tessajowellfoundation.

“Aside from being the most extraordinary Mum and Mother In Law we could ask for, Tessa was a public servant to her absolute core who spent 23 years as a member of parliament. We’re determined to carry on the transformational work she led in public health.

“She dedicated her final year to kickstarting the process of delivering world class treatment and care for brain cancer patients throughout the NHS.

“The UK has one of the worst cancer survival rates in Europe and brain cancer kills more people under 40 than any other cancer type.

“Treatment for brain cancer has barely progressed in 40 years, and our family foundation exists to change that. We hope you’ll follow and support this amazing cause, led by our inspirational sister, Jess.”

Jowell, a former MP who was instrumental in bringing the Olympic Games to London in 2012, died in May 2018 after a brain haemorrhage.

She had been diagnosed with brain cancer the previous May.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair led the tributes to Jowell after her death, saying she had "passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known".

Jowell joined the government as a minister in the Department for Health after Blair's Labour Party won the 1997 election by a landslide.

Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron at the memorial service at Southwark Cathedral, London for the former culture secretary, Baroness Tessa Jowell. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron attended a memorial service for Tessa Jowell in 2018 (Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)

Blair appointed her to the cabinet in 2001 as Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, where she headed London's successful Olympic Games bid.

Following her cancer diagnosis, Jowell campaigned for better treatment for cancer patients from Britain's state-funded health service.

She received a minute-long standing ovation in the House of Lords in January 2018 after speaking about her condition.

Theresa May, who was PM when Jowell died, said: "The dignity and courage with which Dame Tessa Jowell confronted her illness was humbling and inspirational."

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said Jowell would be remembered for her "courage, strength and compassion for others", and his successor David Cameron said he was "devastated" to hear of the death of the "dedicated and passionate campaigner" and "wonderful human being".

Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF and former chairman of the London organising committee of the Olympic Games, said London 2012 would not have happened without Jowell.

He said: "She showed unflinching tenacity in persuading the prime minister and the cabinet that the government should throw its full weight behind the bid.”

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