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Inspirational BBC presenter Rachael Bland dies aged 40

Rachael Bland

BBC presenter Rachael Bland, who inspired thousands by chronicling her battle against terminal cancer, has died at the age of 40.

Tweeting from Bland’s account, her husband Steve announced the devastating news this morning, signing off along with their young son Freddie.

“Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family,” he wrote. “We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone who took an interest in her story or sent messages of support.

“You’ll never know how much they meant to her. Steve and Freddie xxx.”

In a statement to the BBC, he added: “Rachael’s death has left a huge hole in our perfect little family that we’ll never be able to fill. She was an incredibly talented broadcaster as well as a wonderful and much-loved daughter, sister, aunt, niece, wife and, most importantly to her, a mother to her precious little Freddie.

“We all take such huge comfort and pride from the amazing and tireless work she has done since her diagnosis to reduce the stigma around cancer and prove that it is possible to live life to the fullest even when facing huge challenges on a daily basis. At the end, even though her body was at its weakest, her voice was at its strongest and most powerful.

“Rachael was, and will always be, an incredible inspiration to everyone she met. To us, she was perfect in every way and we will miss her more than words can say.”

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Bland, who presented on 5 Live and the BBC News Channel, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016. She documented her battle with the disease through her blog Big C Little Me, as well as the You, Me and the Big C podcast that she co-hosted with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon on 5 Live.

On Monday, Bland, who lives in Cheshire, revealed that she only had days to live.

“In the words of the legendary Frank S – I’m afraid the time has come my friends,” she posted. “And suddenly. I’m told I’ve only got days. It’s very surreal. Thank you so much for all the support I’ve received. Debs and lozz will continue with the #youmebigc podcast. Au revoir my friends.”

Fellow 5 live presenter Nicky Campbell replied: “You are an astonishing human being. Love to all.” BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire wrote: “Courage, grace, laughter – that’s you. You are amazing.”

In May, the presenter was told her cancer was incurable and that her only hope rested with a clinical trial. Bland, who was previously known by her maiden name Hodges, has been a BBC news presenter for more than 15 years.

Last month she told the Sunday Telegraph: “I’m not scared of dying. I only fear for those I leave behind.”

Jonathan Wall, the Controller of 5 Live who commissioned the Big C podcast, added: “Rachael was part of the fabric of 5 Live and today is a very sad day for all of us and so many of our listeners.

“She was a very talented broadcaster and a beautiful loyal colleague to so many. More than that, she turned the final year of her life into the finest year of her life delivering the most important broadcasting I have ever heard about living with cancer, and ultimately facing death because of cancer. She has made a profound difference to so many lives.

“We are all so proud at what she achieved – a truly heroic broadcaster and lovely wife, daughter and mum.” 

Director General Tony Hall said: “Rachael was a popular and inspiring journalist. Everyone has been moved by her courage and dignity. She will be hugely missed by her many listeners and by staff across the BBC. Our sympathies go out to her family and many friends at this difficult time.”

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