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'A kind heart': Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell dies three years after cancer diagnosis

Bracknell’s cancer diagnosis came to light in October 2016.

Leah Bracknell in 2001
Leah Bracknell in 2001
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

FORMER EMMERDALE STAR Leah Bracknell has died three years after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

The actress, who played Zoe Tate on the ITV soap for 16 years until 2005, died in September at the age of 55.

She also had roles in Judge John Deed, A Touch of Frost, The Royal Today and DCI Banks to name just a few, as well as numerous appearances on stage and in pantomime.

A statement from her manager, on behalf of Bracknell’s family, said: “They would like to thank all the public for their support and generosity which contributed to the extension and quality of her life over the past three years.

“Leah continued to embrace life and faced her illness with positivity. Many aspects of her journey can be found on her blog – somethingbeginningwithc.com.

Leah had an energy and enthusiasm for life, a kind heart and much love to give to those around her.

“Her family have asked for privacy at this very sad time.”

John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, said in a statement: “Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell. Leah was a hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast for over 16 years.

“During that time she featured in some of the show’s most high-profile and explosive plots and always delivered a pitch perfect performance.

Zoe Tate was one of soap’s first lesbian characters and Leah made sure the character was both exciting and credible.

“Leah herself was a very generous and caring colleague, much loved by cast and crew alike.”

Diagnosis

Bracknell’s cancer diagnosis came to light in October 2016 when her husband Jez Hughes launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for her to undergo treatment overseas, due to a lack of options available on the NHS.

The former soap star had been diagnosed in September after rapid weight gain around her abdomen and breathlessness prompted her to seek medical help.

After Bracknell was diagnosed, fans helped her raise more than £50,000 to undergo groundbreaking treatment in Germany.

She started taking new medication, but later revealed that it had failed.

Bracknell has appeared in public numerous times over the past three years, discussing living with cancer and talking openly about her numerous methods to ease her symptoms, and she wrote about her experiences on her blog, Something Beginning With C.

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