Cancer campaigner Deborah James awarded a damehood days after revealing hospice care

12 May 2022, 22:11 | Updated: 12 May 2022, 22:44

Deborah James has been awarded a damehood.
Deborah James has been awarded a damehood. Picture: Instagram

By Emma Soteriou

Cancer campaigner and podcast host Deborah James has been awarded a damehood, the Government has confirmed.

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Ms James, 40, raised more than £3.7 million after setting up a Just Giving page to raise money for clinical trials, research, and raising awareness of bowel cancer.

The former headteacher was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016 and has kept her more than 500,000 Instagram followers up to date with her treatments.

She revealed on Monday that she is receiving end-of-life care.

Listen to You, Me and the Big C on Global Player

On Thursday night, Number 10 confirmed that the podcaster was to be made a dame, saying: "The Queen has been pleased to approve that the honour of damehood be conferred upon Deborah James."

Ms James has been building awareness around bowel cancer
Ms James has been building awareness around bowel cancer. Picture: Instagram

Boris Johnson praised the mother-of-two for her work helping others with cancer, saying: "If ever an honour was richly deserved, this is it.

"Deborah has been an inspiration and her honesty, warmth and courage has been a source of strength to so many people.

"Through her tireless campaigning and by so openly sharing her experience she has not only helped in our fight against this terrible disease, she has ensured countless others with the Big C have not felt alone.

"I hope this recognition from Her Majesty - backed I'm sure by the whole country - will provide some comfort to Deborah and her family at this difficult time. My thoughts are with them and Deborah should know she has the country's love and gratitude."

Read more: Prince William and Kate donate to cancer fund for 'special' Deborah James

Read more: Deborah James 'in disbelief' after bowel cancer fundraiser reaches £2m in two days

Ms James told the Sun that she was "honoured" to receive the damehood.

"I don't know what to say. I'm blown away and feel incredibly honoured," she said.

"I don't feel like I deserve this. I can't tell you what this means to my family, it's so much to take in."

She told the paper that her fund had "surpassed all expectations", adding: "I'd love to get it to £5 million by the end of the weekend."

In an Instagram post earlier in the week, Ms James said she did not know how long she had left, and that while the last six months had been "heartbreaking" to go through, she had been surrounded by "so much love" and had "no regrets".

Deborah James hosts a podcast with Rachael Bland and Lauren Mahon
Deborah James hosts a podcast with Rachael Bland and Lauren Mahon. Picture: Alamy

Speaking about her decision to set up the Bowelbabe fund, James wrote: "I always knew there was one thing I always wanted to do before I died.

"I have always over the years raised as much awareness and money for the charities that are closest to me. @cr_uk @royalmarsden @bowelcanceruk

"As a result, the @bowelbabefund is being established and I'd love nothing more than for you to help it flourish. Please visit for all the info and to donate (link in Bio)."

She was praised in a personal message from Prince William and Kate on Twitter, who revealed they had donated to the fund.

The couple said their thoughts were with Ms James and her family, saying her efforts to raise awareness around bowel cancer were "inspiring".