Tessa Jowell's family tell of her peaceful final hours and ‘beautiful death’

Dame Tessa Jowell ’s family today told how she was smiling and laughing just days before her “beautiful death”.

Her husband, David Mills, spoke of her “merciful release” and her daughterJessie said that it had been an “incredibly peaceful” time. Former CultureSecretary Dame Tessa died aged 70 on Saturday after a battle against a brain tumour.

Mr Mills said she never gave up hope of finding a cure and in her final days they had been looking to try to create a vaccine from the DNA of the tumour.

“In one way it was a mercy that it all happened very, very quickly,” he told BBC radio. “It only took 36 hours really, from when she had this haemorrhage to when she died and she was aware of very little during that time, so it was a merciful release for her.

“In many ways, as the wonderful people who looked after her at Shipston Home Nursing, which is our local hospice at home service, said it was a very, very beautiful death... if you can have a beautiful death, she certainly had one.”

He welcomed the Government’s announcement that it was doubling funding into brain cancer research in the wake of her death to £40 million over the next five years.

Dame Tessa died aged 70 on Saturday after a battle against a brain tumour (Lucy Young)

Ms Mills told how just the day before her mother had her haemorrhage she had been walking down the lane outside their home “in the most wonderful spirits, smiling and laughing with dad and just having the most special time”.

She added: “We didn’t let her go for the whole of the last couple of days that she was very, very, very ill.

“We literally laid with her, next to her, kissing her, holding her, telling her how much we loved her and it was the honour of our lives to be her family.

“It was an incredibly peaceful time. Until the last moment she was the magnificent person, mother that we all know and just adore.”

Lord Coe told how Dame Tessa was “utterly fearless, like a tiger fighting her corner” as she sought to bring the 2012 Olympics to London, adding: “People say nice things about people in such tragedies but, from everyone, this is truly heartfelt.”

Former minister Lord Mandelson praised Dame Tessa for her work in establishing the Sure Start children’s centre programme. “Tender is the right word but not the only one. Tough, battling and indefatigable are also appropriate and they describe her life in politics.”

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