Dame Deborah James raised unbelievable £11.3 million in final weeks of life
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Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@bowelbabe
Dame Deborah James managed to raise a gigantic £11.3 million in the days before her death from cancer, her family has revealed.
You might not be aware, but April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, and in honour of that - and the commitment that Deborah had to raising money after her own diagnosis - her family have explained how she raised a staggering sum before she died on 28 June last year.
Of course, that’s not only down to Deborah’s work, but also to the many people who put their hand into their pocket to give what they could for a great cause.
Her husband, Sebastien Bowen, told The Sun that he’s proud of what she achieved before her death, as well as thanking those who contributed.
He said: “Deborah would be utterly blown away, I can hear her saying, ‘Wow, this is such a big deal’.
“This money is going to have a huge impact, and will hopefully go on to save many lives.
“I know she would be incredibly proud of that.
“The kids and I are immensely proud.”
Before she died, the new Dame recorded a message thanking everyone - 330,000 in total, at that stage - who had donated to the cause.
“Every penny counts,” she said.
“I cannot thank you enough for your support.
"You are awesome.”
After hearing that she had just days remaining in her life, Deborah started the Bowelbabe fund on 9 May, looking to raise £250,000 towards research to give ‘one final f*** you to cancer, and give more Deborahs more time’.
The public soon responded to her call, clearly moved by her plight, raising that entire target in just one day.
By the time she died on 28 June, the fundraising total was nearly £7 million.
But, the donations kept coming in after her death, and the total raised by the 40-year-old was a massive £11.3 million.
In a statement, Prince William - who travelled to meet Deborah and bestow her Damehood before her death - said: “This is a truly fantastic milestone.
“Thanks to the generosity of so many, the impact and legacy of Dame Deborah’s life will be felt for many years to come.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Dame Deborah brought honesty, she brought humour but most of all she brought with her a key message to raise awareness, which has no doubt saved lives.
“Deborah’s legacy lives on, that ‘rebellious hope’ she told us all to have is not only smashing funding targets but continuing to save lives.
“Thank you BowelBabe and to all those who have donated.”
Her husband Seb added: “The kids and I are immensely proud of their mum and her legacy, and they’re really excited about the projects we are funding.
“We had lots of ideas over the summer about how we can continue to raise money, and they are really keen to be involved in it.
“We don’t want it to be a one-off thing, we’re constantly brainstorming ideas.
"Eloise has held a fundraiser at school, and they’re determined to help keep the momentum going.”
He also explained how the charity fund became a ‘light in the dark’ for the family after their tragic loss.
“The last year of Deborah’s life was incredibly difficult, there was a lot of sadness,” he said.
“It has been a massive roller coaster, but the Fund has been a really positive thing to focus on.
“For the kids, it’s a way to hold onto their mum’s positive streak.”
He continued: “Scientific advances kept her alive when the statistics said she should be dead, so she truly believed she was riding on the wings of science.
“She was adamant that this Fund was her way of doing that for others, and she wanted her legacy to inspire other people to do all they can to prevent this horrible disease.”
Michelle Mitchell, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Dame Deborah was a force of nature.
“We’re deeply honoured to be working with Deborah’s family, the Fund will be fuelled by Deborah’s spirit of rebellious hope.
“The projects announced today are the first step to continuing Deborah’s legacy to bring hope for a better future for people affected by cancer.”