THE mother of Dame Deborah James, who raised more than £7million for cancer research and awareness of bowel cancer in the months before her death from the disease, is backing a campaign for people to use and return a home-testing kit.

Heather James said Dame Deborah – who adopted the name Bowelbabe – would have wholeheartedly supported the NHS campaign Life Saving Poo.

“Deborah was passionate about encouraging people to check their poo, understand their own bodies and make sure all symptoms were properly investigated,” said Heather of the former Winston Churchill School pupil.

“She would have totally believed in this campaign that encourages those who are sent bowel cancer testing kits to use them.

“On behalf of Deborah and myself, I would ask you to place the testing kit by your loo and then, remembering her final words of advice – check your poo, it could just save your life.”

Heather and her husband Alistair cared for their daughter at their home in Woking in the final weeks of her illness.

She died in June last year, aged 40, a month after receiving the insignia of damehood for her fundraising and awareness campaign from Prince William in the garden of her parents’ house.

Deborah went into teaching after gaining an economics degree at Exeter University and her first job was at St John the Baptist secondary school in Old Woking.

She moved to Salesian School, Chertsey, where she became deputy head and was working in that role at The Matthew Arnold School in Staines when her illness forced her to give up work.

Dame Deborah spoke in a lively, frank and often humorous way in television and radio interviews, a podcast, a blog and social media posts. She had set out to raise £250,000 for Cancer Research UK through an online donations page – it had 
received a total of £7,212,943 when she died.

An NHS spokesman said: “In the South East of England, the proportion of people participating in bowel screening has increased to 73.4%, the highest on record. However, there is still a percentage of people not returning their test kit.”

The campaign being supported by Mrs James aims to increase the uptake so more people 
receive a diagnosis of bowel cancer at the earliest stage – when they are nine times more likely to survive.

Kits are already sent to people aged 60 to 74 every two years but this is being extended to 
under-60s with the aim of reaching the over-50s in two years’ time.

The NHS spokesman said: “The kit is quicker to use than the previous bowel cancer screening home testing kit. It detects small amounts of blood before someone may notice anything is wrong.”

IF you think you should have had a kit or have lost or thrown one away, call the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.