Current, former British PMs lead tribute to ex-minister who helps London win 2012 Olympics bid

Tessa Jowell, died late Saturday and is famous for playing a major role in securing the 2012 Olympics for London. (Net photo)

British Prime Minister Theresa May, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday led tributes to Tessa Jowell, who died late Saturday and is famous for playing a major role in securing the 2012 Olympics for London.

They, alongside former cabinet colleagues and members of parliaments, praised Jowell's work on Sure Start, a flagship scheme to support children in the early years, her success in bringing the Olympic Games to London and her later campaigning on cancer research.

The family announced on Sunday morning her death "with great sadness, and an enormous sense of loss."

Jowell, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in May last year, suffered a haemorrhage on Friday, and had been in a coma until her death on Saturday night. She died on Saturday night at 70.

She helped London win the 2012 Olympics bid when she served as British culture secretary.

There will be a small private funeral in the coming days and a memorial service open to all at a later date.

May paid tribute to Jowell on Sunday, praising her "lifetime of public service."

May twittered on Sunday morning to say that "The dignity and courage with which Dame Tessa Jowell confronted her illness was humbling and it was inspirational."

"My sympathies to her loving family -- Dame Tessa's campaigning on brain cancer research is a lasting tribute to a lifetime of public service," she said.

For his part, Blair said, "Tessa had passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known. She was an inspiration to work with, and a joy to be near."

"She was the most wise of counsellors, the most loyal and supportive of colleagues, and the best of friends," said the former prime minister. "There was no one like Tessa and no one better. I will miss her more than I can say."

As culture secretary in Blair's government, Jowell oversaw Britain's drive to win the 2012 Olympic Games for London. She was one of only a handful of MPs to have served as a minister during the whole of Blair's and Gordon Brown's premierships.

Corbyn said in his twitter that he was "devastating to hear the news of Tessa Jowell's death."

"From councillor to cabinet minister, her achievements were huge, including helping to bring the Olympics to London," said the opposition leader. "Her strength in raising awareness of her illness and fighting for better treatment for others inspired us all."

Lord David Blunkett, Jowell's Labour cabinet colleague, called her "one of my closest friends for over 40 years" and said they had worked together to develop an alternative to Old Labour, as well as praising her commitment to Sure Start, which led to the creation of 3,500 children's centers across the country.

Meanwhile, Helen Hayes, an MP who succeeded Jowell in Dulwich and West Norwood, called her legacy extraordinary.

"Tessa is much-loved across the constituency, for the things she delivered but perhaps even more for her deep empathy and compassion, and the way that she worked collaboratively to empower others," she said. "Life is now better and fairer in our part of south London because Tessa put people first."


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