Family ‘overwhelmed’ by tributes paid to James Brokenshire

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The then Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire leaving after the weekly Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London (PA) (PA Wire)
The then Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire leaving after the weekly Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London (PA) (PA Wire)

The family of the former Government minister James Brokenshire say they are “overwhelmed” by the tributes and donations which have been made in his memory.

Mr Brokenshire, 53, died on October 7 after suffering lung cancer.

His family set up a fundraising page to encourage people to share memories, photographs and donate in his memory.

His widow Cathy said that feelings over his death are “still so raw” but she is immensely proud of the impact he continues to have as donations for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation (RCLCF), one of his favoured charities, have topped £45,000.

Former government minister James Brokenshire (David Mirzoeff/PA) (PA Wire)
Former government minister James Brokenshire (David Mirzoeff/PA) (PA Wire)

She said: “We are overwhelmed with the kind words, beautiful memories and generous donations people have made in memory of James, particularly from people who had never even met him but recognised what kind of man he was and what he tried to achieve throughout his life.

“While it is still so raw at the moment, I know in time this is something we will be able to cherish.

“We are so appreciative of the support Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has given, both to James after his diagnosis, and to us after his death, by setting up this tribute page. So, to be able to raise such an incredible amount to help the charity continue its excellent work provides a great deal of comfort and pride.”

Mr Brokenshire, the Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, who previously served as Northern Ireland secretary and security minister, announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018 and had surgery to remove the upper lobe of his right lung.

At the time, non-smoker Mr Brokenshire said he had been prompted to see his GP after coughing up a small amount of blood.

He became vocal in calling for national screening for lung cancer, and in April 2018 used a debate in Parliament to call for a national programme to improve poor survival rates.

Mr Brokenshire said much stigma surrounds lung cancer, with many people incorrectly believing it is only caused by smoking.

Nearly 700 individual donations have now been made to the tribute page, including many from people within his constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup.

A spokesman for W Uden & Sons Family Funeral Directors said its donation had been made “in memory of an exceptional man – James has been an utter credit to his profession and has served our local community like no other”.

Two thirds of people with lung cancer are diagnosed at late stage and it is responsible for over a fifth of all cancer deaths in the UK, according to the RCLCF, which believes there should be a national lung cancer screening programme.

RCLCF chief executive Paula Chadwick said: “We will continue to campaign for a national screening programme in memory of James and the 35,000 others who lose their life to lung cancer every year.”

More than £45,000 raised for lung cancer charity in memory of former government minister James Brokenshire (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)
More than £45,000 raised for lung cancer charity in memory of former government minister James Brokenshire (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)

Mr Brokenshire had also backed efforts by Baroness Jowell who died in May 2018 after suffering a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour, for more experimental treatments to be available on the NHS.

In January, he suffered a recurrence of a tumour and later said the “somewhat troublesome” lung had been removed by surgeons at Guy’s Hospital in south London.

But in August, he confirmed his lung cancer had “progressed” and he was starting a new line of treatment.

Mr Brokenshire’s family said he had been in hospital in the days before his death but his condition had rapidly deteriorated.

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