Deborah James: Prince William visit gave me so much to smile about in the sadness

·5-min read
Deborah James and the Duke of Cambridge in her garden on Friday - Graham Prentice
Deborah James and the Duke of Cambridge in her garden on Friday - Graham Prentice

Podcast host Deborah James has praised the Duke of Cambridge for "going above and beyond to make a very special memory" after he made her a dame at her family home.

The 40-year-old, known online as Bowel Babe, was honoured for her "tireless campaigning" to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Dame Deborah posted pictures of Prince William with herself and her family on Instagram and has said the visit gave her family "so much to smile about in the sadness".

In a post on Instagram, she said: "I believe I may have had the most surreal, mind blowing, humbling five days of my life.

"I cannot thank you for your generosity at launching the @bowelbabefund which now stands at £5.7 million, and to the @dukeandduchessofcambridge for going above and beyond to make a very special memory happen yesterday. Can't quite believe im actually a Dame!

"My family are being amazing and as emotional as it all is, we are finding so much to smile about in the sadness.

"I may be getting weaker and more tired each tired having run off pure adrenaline, but my word, I always said I wanted to slide in sideways when my time is up, with a massive smile, no regrets and a big glass of champagne! Still my intention!!!"

The Duke of Cambridge personally delivered a damehood to the home of Deborah James, visiting with her family to honour her campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

The Duke, who is president of the Royal Marsden hospital where Dame Deborah received treatment, spent time with her husband and children for tea, champagne and personal congratulations.

The visit came just a day after it was confirmed that the Queen was "pleased to approve that the honour of damehood be conferred upon Deborah James".

The podcaster and campaigner has raised £5 million for Cancer Research so far, after she revealed she is now receiving palliative care.

Dame Deborah, 40, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016, and has documented her treatment in newspaper columns, on social media, television and the You, Me and the Big C podcast in order to help others.

She has now shared six photographs of the Duke's visit, writing: "Prince William actually came to our family house today!!

"I am utterly honoured that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family but also honoured me with my damehood.

"It's quite surreal having a royal pop in at home, and yes you can imagine the cleaning antics and preparation went off the scale - but it was all irrelevant because William was so kind and he put us all at ease.

"He is clearly passionate about improving oncology outcomes as the President of the Royal Marsden. It was such a special day for my whole family, making memories to last a life time.

"He's welcome back any time!"

It was announced on Thursday that the former deputy headteacher had been honoured with a damehood for her "tireless campaigning".

On Friday evening she reached the £5 million milestone with her Cancer Research fundraising initiative.

Earlier this week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said their thoughts were with Ms James and her family, and donated an undisclosed amount to the podcast host’s fundraising initiative.

In a personal tweet, William and Kate said: “Every now and then, someone captures the heart of the nation with their zest for life & tenacious desire to give back to society.

“@bowelbabe is one of those special people. Her tireless efforts to raise awareness of bowel cancer & end the stigma of treatment are inspiring.

“We are so sad to hear her recent update but pleased to support the @bowelbabef, which will benefit the @royalmarsdenNHS among others.

“Deborah, our thoughts are with you, your family and your friends. Thank you for giving hope to so many who are living with cancer. W & C.”

Dame Deborah, known to her followers as Bowel Babe, has been treated at the Royal Marsden hospital which is one of the beneficiaries of her fund.

Her Just Giving page said it is "raising money to fund clinical trials and research into personalised medicine for cancer patients and supporting campaigns to raise awareness of bowel cancer".

The presenter of popular BBC podcast You, Me And The Big C, disclosed on Monday that she had moved to hospice-at-home care to treat her terminal bowel cancer.

In the social media post, she added: "As I'm getting more and more sleepy and finding life a little harder, I've had more time to think that I've never stopped to realise the impact that our podcasting, and talking, and campaigning has had over five years.

"Small chats really can save lives, small conversations can create ripples far beyond where we might see them, and seeds might grow where we're never see their fruits.

"And there is something exciting and beautiful in that cycle of life. With this money hopefully more people will have more time with their loved ones.

"Who knows what plants we might grow, but when done with hope, we pray that some blossom into game-changers for our kids, and many more to come.

"Keep loving in kindness, with rebellious hope always."