Tributes have started pouring in for BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Rachael Bland who died shortly after 3am this morning surrounded by her family.
The annoucement, made by her husband Steve just before lunchtime, prompted hundreds of messages of condolence from across the media and from fans, touched by Bland’s podcast ‘You, Me And The Big C’.
BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: “Rachael was a popular and inspiring journalist. Everyone has been moved by her courage and dignity. She will be hugely missed by her many listeners and by staff across the BBC. Our sympathies go out to her family and many friends at this difficult time.”
Jonathan Wall, controller of Radio 5 Live, said: “Rachael was part of the fabric of 5 Live and today is a very sad day for all of us and so many of our listeners.
“She was a very talented broadcaster and a beautiful loyal colleague to so many. More than that, she turned the final year of her life into the finest year of her life delivering the most important broadcasting I have ever heard about living with cancer, and ultimately facing death because of cancer. She has made a profound difference to so many lives. We are all so proud at what she achieved – a truly heroic broadcaster and lovely wife, daughter and mum.”
Friend and colleague Tony Livesey, who worked with Bland on the ‘5 Live Drive’ on Fridays, said: “5 Live’s lost one of its brightest spirits. I’m going into cliche territory now so she’ll be pressing an alarm somewhere, but she was beautiful inside and out. She was such a lovely person.
“Rachael Bland – presenter, friend to most of us, inspiration to all. Radio 5 Live is broadcasting with a broken heart. We’ve lost one of our brightest talents.”
Fellow podcast presenter Lauren Mahon said: “Heartbroken doesn’t cut it. Steve, Freddie and family I love you. I’m so sorry.”
BBC broadcaster Emma Barnett said: ”@Rachael_Hodges who kept smiling (and telling me which side to stand on in our photos) regardless of what life kept on throwing at her. The BBC 5 Live family - listeners and presenters - are going to miss and remember her.”
BBC Radio 5 Live said on their official Twitter account: ”Mother to Freddie. Wife to Steve. Our treasured colleague Rachael Bland has died. She inspired so many with her blogs, the chart-topping podcast
#YouMeBigC and certainly put the can in cancer. We will miss her dearly.”
BBC breakfast presenter Sally Nugent said: “I’m so so very sorry. Sending love to you and Freddie.”
Fellow radio DJ, Capital FM presenter Polly James said: “Life is just really...erm, no words. Genuinely gut-wrenching news. What a women [sic]. Thinking of the family and friends.”
BBC weather presenter Simon King, responded to her husband Steve: “Devastating news Steve, I’m so so sorry. Can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you. Sending lots of love and thoughts to you, Freddie and your families. You must all be incredibly proud of what Rachael has done. RIP Rachael.”
MP and secretary of state for health and social care, Matt Hancock said: ”So sad to hear Rachael Bland has died. She fought so bravely. Her legacy is a testament to how much more we need to do to beat this dreadful disease.”
Double Olympic Champion, Dame Kelly Holmes said: “I am only liking this as I want to respect what you have written. It feels strange to be pressing like on something so sad. Rachael has done more for awareness than anyone and for that people are truely grateful. My heart and love goes out to all of your family. So sorry.”
Former Busted singer Charlie Simpson, said: “Really sad to hear that. I listened to one of Rachel’s podcasts this week and was amazed at how charming, funny and gracious she was in the face of such tragic circumstances. Such a strong women [sic]. Rest in peace.”
Deborah Alsina, CEO of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “I’m so desperately sorry to read this. Rachael was an inspiration, giving light, hope and laughter to many during their own dark times. I know her legacy will continue to inspire the actions of many of us. Sending you, Freddie, and all your family love and best wishes.”
Bland joined the BBC in 2001, beginning her BBC career at Radio Wiltshire, working as a journalist and newsreader. She soon joined BBC Radio 5 Live, where she became a familiar voice to listeners of Richard Bacon’s popular late-night programme. She also began presenting on the BBC News Channel.