A Place in the Sun host Jonnie Irwin's heartbreaking message to his young boys as star dies aged 50 after cancer battle

3 February 2024, 07:34

TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has died aged 50 after his battle with lung cancer.
TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has died aged 50 after his battle with lung cancer. Picture: Alamy/Instagram

By Will Taylor

A Place in the Sun star Jonnie Irwin told his three boys to put "family first" months before dying aged 50 after a battle with lung cancer.

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He had battled with the disease for more than three-and-a-half years, with the news devastating fans when it broke on Friday.

A message he made last summer, addressed to his boys, said: "Family first, always look after your family. Your brothers, your mother... Put them first. Support them, love them, and know that they're so much more important than anyone else."

He told Hello! magazine: "I want them to believe they can do anything… I want them to be confident, but believe in yourselves, because you can do anything… I've seen their capabilities and they're boundless."

His wife Jessica Holmes announced the news in a post to social media on Friday, as she paid tribute to a 'truly remarkable soul'.

She wrote: "It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Jonnie’s passing. A truly remarkable soul, he fought bravely against cancer with unwavering strength and courage."

"Jonnie touched the lives of so many with his kindness, warmth, and infectious spirit."

The former Escape to the Country presenter was initially told he only had six months left to live after being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in 2020.

In 2022, he announced the cancer had spread from his lung to his brain after initially keeping his illness under wraps.

But Jonnie battled on despite his prognosis and even celebrated his 50th birthday with a holiday to Spain late last year.

He claimed experimental therapies and diets had helped extend his life.

His wife's tribute continued: "At this time, we kindly ask for the privacy of Jonnie’s family as they navigate through this profound loss. Their grief is immeasurable, and your thoughts, prayers, and support are deeply appreciated.

"As we remember the beautiful moments shared with Jonnie, let us celebrate a life well-lived and a legacy that will forever be etched in our hearts. Jonnie may be gone from our sight, but his love, laughter, and memories will live on.

"Rest in peace, dear Jonnie. You will be dearly missed, but never forgotten."

Read more: Terminally ill Jonnie Irwin back in hospital and 'hasn’t slept for six nights'

Read more: Jonnie Irwin 'shares reasons I'm still here' as he talks about buying more time amid cancer battle

Jonnie was given six months to live in his initial prognosis.
Jonnie was given six months to live in his initial prognosis. Picture: Alamy

Just last week, Jonnie revealed he was back in hospital for an MRI scan after not sleeping for six nights in a row.

Jonnie was most notably known for hosting programmes, including A Place In The Sun and Escape to the Country.

On celebrating his 50th birthday, Jonnie told Hello! of how he felt "really privileged" to reach the milestone.

He said: "I feel really privileged to be able to celebrate my birthday looking at blue skies and with sand between my toes.

"I had an early birthday party at the start of the year because I didn't think I'd make it. It was like being at my own wake; lots of fun, lots of dancing. But here I am. I view it as a complete triumph."

Jonnie said he first realised something was amiss with his health while he was filming for A Place in the Sun in Italy and began seeing ‘weird gold spots’ while he was driving.

A crew member who was concerned about him later took him to the hospital where he was told he had nodules around his brain.

He then flew back to the UK and went to hospital when he was told he had cancer.

The star said of the moment: “Within a few hours I got told I had cancer. And I was like ‘right’.

Jonnie Irwin and his co-presenter Jasmine Harman.
Jonnie Irwin and his co-presenter Jasmine Harman. Picture: Getty

“Then a few hours later, my good friend Rahul was sat with me when they said it is terminal cancer and I had six months to live.

“Do you ever hear the phrase it knocked the wind out of you? Nothing had ever done that to me and that it did it.

“I was just battered.”

Jonnie said he kept his illness a secret initially to make sure he could continue to provide for his family, as he said: "As soon as you say you've got cancer, people just write you off".

Reacting to the news, Jonnie’s A Place in the Sun co-presenter Jasmine Harman said "my heart is broken”.

She paid to her former co-star, writing on Instagram: "To begin our TV careers together was a pleasure and a privilege I will be eternally grateful for.

"Almost twenty years ago, as two nervous new presenters (me perhaps more nervous than you!) little did we know about the adventure we were about to embark on, and the friends we would become.

"Professionally, you were well suited to life in front of the lens. But for years, you always talked about wanting to settle down and become a dad.

"Your wish was granted when you met Jess. Never were you happier than in your role as husband and Dad to the most awesome three boys - you are a legend."

She added: "The world is a little darker today without you, but I will always smile when I think of you. My partner in crime, my OG co-presenter - Jonnie, I will miss you."

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