British ex-culture secretary Tessa Jowell dies at 70

Jowell died peacefully at the family home in Warwickshire, England on Saturday evening, her family said in a statement released Sunday.

Published: 14th May 2018 12:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th May 2018 12:10 AM   |  A+A-

In this Friday March 10, 2006 file photo, Britain's Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and Britain's Prince Charles walk through Poundbury, Dorset, England. | AP

In this Friday March 10, 2006 file photo, Britain's Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and Britain's Prince Charles walk through Poundbury, Dorset, England. | AP

By Associated Press

LONDON: Tessa Jowell, the former British culture secretary who played a key role in securing the 2012 London Olympics and used her own cancer diagnosis to campaign for better treatment, has died. She was 70.

Jowell died peacefully at the family home in Warwickshire, England on Saturday evening, her family said in a statement released Sunday.

Jowell, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year, remained a member of the House of Lords and used the platform to call for improved information-sharing and better access to medical care. Her memorable speech in Parliament moved her peers to tears.

"In the end, what gives a life meaning is not only how it is lived, but how it draws to a close," she said in January, with a shawl around her shoulders and her head covered by a skull cap. "I hope that this debate will give hope to other cancer patients, like me, so we can live well together with cancer — not just dying of it. All of us — for longer."

While politicians of all affiliations offered tributes and praise for Jowell's courage and her championing of programs like Sure Start children's centers as a government minister, it was her work on the Olympics that gave her a profile with the general public.

Having pushed the British government to bid for the Olympics, her joy on securing the games for London was short-lived. The following day — July 7, 2005 — four suicide bombers targeted the city's public transportation network, killing 52 people and injuring hundreds more.

On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Jowell told those attending a memorial service that her memories of the day were vivid.

"I will certainly never forget it — neither the day itself nor the days afterwards. I was in Singapore," she recalled. "We were celebrating having won the Olympic bid when my private secretary received a call from London to be told that there might have been a terrorist attack on the Tube network.

"As the full scale of the atrocity became clear, those of us representing the U.K. in Singapore could think about just one thing: we had to get home."

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair asked Jowell to coordinate the government's support for survivors and the bereaved. She later said she often thought about July 7, but particularly during the two-minute silence at the London Games' opening ceremony directed by Danny Boyle.

"I saw the forward-looking, expansive, optimistic vision of Britain that the opening ceremony represented and I thought again that this was something the bombers and their supporters would have hated — all those nations, with their different views, their different cultures, their different traditions, coming together in a spirit of peace and play," she said.

"So it was a deeply civilized thing that we did in those marvelous two weeks in the summer of 2012."

Tributes for Jowell poured in from the many corners of British life she touched. In politics, Blair applauded her understanding of public health and the need "to shift health policy towards prevention of illness and not only cure." In sport, soccer legend David Beckham posted an image on his Instagram feed that showed him giving her a hug.

"Dame Tessa who was a passionate & amazing woman in so many different ways," Beckham wrote.

Jowell is survived by her husband, David Mills, and their children Jessie and Matthew. The family said the funeral would be small and private, but a memorial open to all would be held later.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp