THE parents of Dame Deborah James say they are incredibly proud of her achievements in raising more than £7million for cancer research and of her contribution to changing the way the nation talks about the disease in the years before her death.

Alistair and Heather James were with their daughter, along with her husband Sebastien and children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12, when she died of bowel cancer at their home in Woking on Tuesday last week.

Dame Deborah, age 40, had been living with them while she received end of life care from a Woking Hospice team. She was invested into the female equivalent of a knighthood during a personal visit to the house by Prince William in May.

Adopting the name Bowelbabe, Dame Deborah had set out to raise £250,000 for Cancer Research UK through an online donations page that had received a total of £7,212.943 when she died.

The number of people checking bowel cancer symptoms on the NHS website increased 10-fold after she shared her experiences with cancer and its treatment in television and radio interviews, in a Radio 5 Live podcast, a blog and through social media posts.

Mr and Mrs James told the News & Mail: “As Deborah’s parents we are heartbroken by her death on 28 June at our family home in Woking.

“We are incredibly proud of her earlier achievements in education and the way that when faced with a stage 4 bowel cancer diagnosis at 35 she chose to publicly share her experiences of dealing with it.

“This let her raise awareness, challenge taboos and eventually change the way as a nation we talk about cancer.

“She also gave incredible support to others facing similar challenges throughout this period through conversations, messages and her social media platforms.

“We will miss Deborah terribly with her enthusiasm for life and that smile - but know that her legacy will live on.”

Dame Deborah went to The Winston Churchill School at St John’s before gaining a degree in Economics at Exeter University. She then went into teaching and her first job was at St John the Baptist secondary school in Old Woking.

She moved on to become assistant head and then deputy head at Salesian School, Chertsey and was seconded as deputy head to The Matthew Arnold School in Staines before cancer forced her to give up work.

Told that she had a matter of weeks to live, Dame Deborah chose to spend her remaining time with her parents, under the care of Woking & Sam Beare Hospice and Wellbeing Care.

A statement from the hospice charity said: “On behalf of all of us at Woking & Sam Beare Hospice, our hearts and deepest condolences go out to Dame Deborah James’s children, husband, family and friends.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to care for a truly inspirational and an exceptionally brave woman.

“She has not only raised a significant amount of money for a number of very worthy charities, but Deborah has also put the spotlight on cancer. In particular, she has removed some of the stigma and taboos around bowel cancer. This sort of awareness will have undoubtedly saved many lives.

“And Deborah has raised important awareness about end of life and hospice care, which the hospice sector is extremely grateful for. Dame Deborah leaves behind a legacy that will not be forgotten.”

Woking Borough Council said this week that Dame Deborah will be honoured in the mayor’s communication at the start of the full council meeting on Thursday 21 July.