WESTMINSTER DIARIES: My tribute to Dame Tessa Jowell - The Solihull Observer

WESTMINSTER DIARIES: My tribute to Dame Tessa Jowell

Solihull Editorial 19th May, 2018   0


This weekend we learnt of the tragic news that Dame Tessa, Baroness Jowell, had passed away at aged 70, following a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

People outside politics often don’t realise that despite the fierce debate commonly regarded as the ‘normal’ working of Parliament, MPs frequently build firm friendships with colleagues on all sides of the House. Indeed, I regarded Tessa as a friend and always admired her steadfast determination and commitment to public service – both as a front bench member of the Labour Party and later as a peer.

In the run up to 2012, Tessa did the heavy lifting on the bid for the London Olympic Games, and when this baton was passed to the coalition government in 2010, I was privileged to be able to work with her to help make the games a lasting legacy. Looking back, I am proud that it was a huge success and believe that Tessa deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

However she will also be remembered for her passionate campaigning on behalf of the victims of brain cancer. In a recent speech to the Lords, she said “In the end, what gives a life meaning is not only how it is lived, but how it draws to a close”. Adding that she hoped that her speech will give hope to other cancer patients like her, so that “we can live well with cancer, not just be dying of it”.

For that reason, I am pleased that the Government have acted on Tessa’s wishes by announcing that funding for brain cancer research will double from £20 million to £40 million. Together with help from Cancer Research UK, a total of £65 million will be spent over the next five years to conduct further research into this most challenging type of cancer – allowing us to improve treatments and prevent this disease from claiming more lives.

Furthermore, the Health Secretary also confirmed that he will fulfil two of Tessa’s key campaign aims; including a national rollout of a brain cancer diagnosis test to better identify tumours.

Combined, I am hopeful that these measures will lead to a real breakthrough in the ongoing fight to tackle this disease in tribute to the memory of a truly great parliamentarian.

Dame Caroline Spelman MP

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