Dame Deborah James’ coffin carried by husband and son during private funeral

Lorraine Kelly, Gaby Roslin and McFly star Tom Fletcher were among those paying their respects.

20 July 2022

The coffin of Dame Deborah James has arrived for an intimate funeral in west London.

Dame Deborah’s husband Sebastien and son Hugo were among those who carried the wicker coffin, adorned with the rose that bears her name, into St Mary’s Church in Barnes on Wednesday afternoon.

The podcast host and mother of two, who became known as Bowelbabe, her social media handle, died last month aged 40 after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016.

Deborah James funeral
The funeral procession for Dame Deborah James (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Her coffin arrived in a vintage Rolls-Royce hearse as more than a dozen members of family walked in procession behind.

The family, all dressed in black, were greeted by the reverend of the Anglican church before making their way inside.

Earlier this year, Dame Deborah had a rose named in her honour, and it went on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Lorraine Kelly, Gaby Roslin, McFly star Tom Fletcher and his podcaster wife Giovanna were among the celebrity attendees.

Ahead of the private service, family members carried a wreath of white flowers into the church.

Deborah James funeral
A mourner carries a copy of the order of service (Aaron Chown/PA)

An attached note said: “Deborah, thank you to our extraordinary friend. You together with Seb, Eloise and Hugo are such an important part of our family, we will love and miss you forever.”

A mourner carried sheet music for the song Tell Me It’s Not True from the musical Blood Brothers, along with an order of service with a picture of Dame Deborah.

The church bells chimed at 12.30pm ahead of the service, which began at 1pm and is featuring readings and music from relatives.

Dame Deborah, a former deputy headteacher, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and subsequently kept her nearly one million Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.

Her candid posts about her progress and diagnosis, including videos of her dancing her way through treatment, won praise from the public and media alike.

Deborah James funeral
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Dame Deborah James (Aaron Chown/PA)

Dame Deborah revealed in early May that she had stopped active treatment and was seeing out her final days at her parents’ home in Woking, Surrey.

She received end-of-life care with her husband, Sebastien, and their two children, 14-year-old Hugo and 12-year-old Eloise, by her side.

In her final months, the presenter of the BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C raised almost £7 million for cancer research, with the amount climbing further following her death.

She was made a dame for her “tireless” work improving awareness of the disease, with the honour conferred by the Duke of Cambridge, who joined her family for afternoon tea and champagne at home.

Her death was announced on June 28 with a message saying she had died peacefully, surrounded by her family.

William and Kate, charities, celebrities and many whose lives have been affected by cancer shared tributes.

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