Dame Deborah James's mum Heather James has opened up about the "bittersweet" moment of accepting her late daughter's honorary degree on her behalf.

Deborah died in June at the age of 40 after battling with bowel cancer six years. In the final weeks of her life, the podcast host raised a phenomenal £7.5million for charity, and continued to campaign for better awareness of bowel cancer symptoms.

Posting on Instagram, Heather shared snaps of the ceremony at Guildhall in London.

As well as Deborah's brother Benjamin and his fiancée Ashley, Deborah's father Alistair was present and took to the stage to accept his daughter's Honorary Doctorate of Science from the Institute of Cancer Research.

Heather's caption read: "Today was a bitter sweet day.

She continued: "Deborah and her colleagues Lauren and Steve from You Me & the Big C were awarded honorary degrees by The Institute of Cancer Research for their outstanding contributions to raising awareness of living with cancer and the importance of cancer research.

"We were proud to accept the award on Deborah's behalf in the most beautiful setting of the Guild Hall Cit of London #bowelbabefund."

Fans soon shared their best wishes with Heather, commending her for celebrating Deborah's "wonderful achievement".

One wrote: "A difficult and melancholy day for sure. I bet you all did her proud through."

A second said: "Oh my. I can only imagine. Hope you are all doing as well as you can be.."

"Just amazing. Congratulations. She's dancing with you," another commented, before a fourth fan added: "Love this. Miss Deborah so much, always thinking of you."

And a fifth said: "Wow, this is fabulous. Can only imagine your emotions. Deborah would absolutely love this Heather."

Speaking at the ceremony, Alistair said: "When Deborah was invited to accept today’s degree she was honoured and proud.

"But this was mixed with a sense of sadness as she realised it was one of the first entries in her diary that she was unlikely to fulfil.

"However, in recognition of what this award meant to her, Deborah was clear in her wishes that her family should be here today on her behalf and to give thanks to the institute and staff for its work and the honour bestowed upon her."

Deborah is survived by her parents, husband Sebastien Bowen and two children Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12. 


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