Leah, we’re thinking of you and send you lots of love

Leah Bracknell

Leah Bracknell

COMMENT: Our public services can only take so much

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The shocking news that ex-Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate in the award-winning soap, has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer has left me completely and utterly stunned.

Leah was a very popular character with fans, playing schizophrenic lesbian vet Zoe from 1989 to 2005.

She was just brilliant at playing a baddie and the audiences absolutely loved her.

Back in 2011 I had the pleasure of working with lovely Leah when she starred in the pantomime Cinderella at the Kings Theatre.

I was playing groom to Cinders’ ponies, while Leah played the wickedly bad Baroness Sadista, stepmother to Cinderella and mum to the hideous Ugly Sisters.

She was just brilliant at playing a baddie and the audiences absolutely loved her.

It’s hard to get your head around the fact that someone like Leah, who looks after herself and has led a healthier lifestyle than many of us, can get this horrendous disease.

Leah is a yoga guru, a vegan and has been a non-smoker for years (having only smoked lightly decades ago).

Lung cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancers, but it’s also one of the most deadly. Unfortunately it doesn’t show any noticeable symptoms until it’s spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body, which means the outlook isn’t as hopeful as it might be with other types of cancer.

It’s so wonderful that people have taken Leah to their hearts and raised more than £60,000 in a crowdfunding appeal set up by her partner, Jez, to enable her to get the cutting-edge treatment she so desperately needs.

When we were doing the panto, Leah very kindly helped to raise funds (along with ex-Coronation Street star Tracy Shaw and the rest of the cast) by doing bucket collections and having a charity night for a young local girl called Chloe who was suffering from osteosarcoma.

Chloe’s family desperately needed to raise £10,000 to get her expert treatment in the USA, but very sadly she passed away just weeks before she was due to fly out.

Leah, everyone at the Kings Theatre is thinking of you, wishing you well and sending you lots of love.

I’M DOING ALL I CAN TO SHRINK MY ‘SUPER-SIZED’ BACKSIDE

There’s nothing like a back-handed compliment to brighten your day, is there girls?

There I was, happily trying to squeeze myself into a size 10 frock in the changing rooms at a well-known boutique when a mere snippet of an assistant says: ‘That dress looks so good on you, very flattering in the bum area.

Then she added: ‘But does madam perhaps require another size?”.

It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from your mother (without the madam bit).

Needless to say, I didn’t make a purchase.

But on the upside I’ve rejoined the gym for the 15th time, taken up powerwalking and reduced my nightly vino to try to shrink my apparently ‘super-sized’ backside.

I’M SURE THAT CAROLINE WAS HAVING A GOOD OLD LAUGH TOO

I was having a leisurely late breakfast whilst watching Good Morning Britain on the telly.

Ricky Tomlinson was on and was chatting to Piers Morgan, paying tribute to his Royle Family co-star, the late Caroline Aherne.

I was just about to take a spoonful of Coco Pops when I heard him pipe up: ‘Well I think she ought to have had a state funeral, she was loved by everyone.’

He then added: ‘After all, Margaret Thatcher had one’.

Really? I thought Ricky, you cannot be serious.

Yes, we loved Caroline. But Mrs T was PM of our country.

It was then that I noticed a twinkle in Ricky’s eye.

Oh you’re a naughty man, I giggled to myself.

I’m sure that, somewhere, Caroline was having a good old laugh too.

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