LONDON: Tributes have poured in from all walks of British life to the work and personality of Dame Tessa Jowell – not least from sport because of her role in helping bring the Olympic Games to London in 2012.
The former Labour cabinet minister died aged 70 on Saturday after having been diagnosed with brain cancer in May last year.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said she left an “enormous” legacy as “everything she touched turned to gold in some way”.
He and others praised the campaigning she did for more NHS cancer treatments.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said she was a “remarkable woman” who had sounded a “national call to arms” about the need to spend more on researching the causes of brain cancer.
Dame Tessa earned a minute-long standing ovation in the House of Lords in January for speaking about her condition.
Leading the tributes, Blair said she was a “committed public servant” who was “always true and loyal and decent and wise”.
“She knew she was dying and yet she was prepared to give everything she had in order to help people in the future.
“If anyone wants to know what politics can achieve they can just look at her life and how she lived it, and how she ended it as a testimony to all that’s best in politics.”
He said her impact on politics was “enormous”, adding that “everything she touched turned to gold in some way, whether it was advancing equal pay for women, starting Sure Start – which is an immense programme for children in our country – or of course bringing the Olympics to Britain”.
Prime Minister Theresa May said “the dignity and courage with which Dame Tessa had confronted her illness was “humbling” and “inspirational”, and her campaigning was a “lasting tribute to a lifetime of public service”.
Lord Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF and former chairman of the London organising committee of the Olympic Games, said London 2012 would not have happened without Dame Tessa.
He added: “She showed unflinching tenacity in persuading the prime minister and the cabinet that the government should throw its full weight behind the bid.”
Dame Katherine Grainger, the chair of UK Sport, said: “This is incredibly sad news. As with every other aspect of her life, Tessa was a much respected and loved figure within British sport. Her accomplishments are enormous but just as impressive is how she achieved them: with decency, determination, guts and grace.
“Others have already noted how there would have been no London 2012 without Tessa’s vision and drive. Tessa was a true believer in the power and inspiration of sport, for which all of us who benefited from her support and conviction will be eternally grateful. Her legacy lives on.”