Entertainment

Rachael Bland's 5 Live colleagues pay tribute to ‘consummate professional'

The BBC newsreader has died from cancer at the age of 40.

Tony Livesey, presenter of 5 Live Drive, has paid tribute to his friend and colleague Rachael Bland following her death aged 40.

Bland’s family said in a statement that she had died “peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family”.

She was diagnosed with primary triple-negative breast cancer in November 2016 and on Monday she posted on social media saying she had only days to live.

She leaves behind her husband of four years Steve and two-year-old son Freddie.

Livesey paid tribute to the on-air rapport he and Bland shared on both his evening and drivetime shows on the station.

Speaking to 5 Live’s Chris Warburton, Livesey said: “Initially when we first met I thought she was a posh girl, we were chalk and cheese. But we just got on so well.

“What I’m getting from people today who remembered the evening show we did together was just how we were slightly bonkers together and we helped a lot of people through a lot of tough times. It’s our job to do that now with Steve and Freddie.”

Livesey added: “The closer to death she became, the determination she had to stick two fingers up to cancer was gloriously disproportionate to her state of health.”

Livesey revealed how Bland encouraged her colleagues not to be sad around her following her diagnosis.

He described her as an “established pro” who helped him learn the ropes when he came to the station.

Livesey said: “She would be on air and there would be breaking news and she was as consummate a BBC professional as you could find.

“She would have the nation gripped and she would inform the nation and the next minute she would be laughing.”

Bland documented her cancer journey on her blog Big C Little Me and on her podcast You, Me and the Big C.

Radio 5’s controller, Jonathan Wall, described the presenter as “part of the fabric of 5 Live” and said that today was “a very sad day for all of us and so many of our listeners”.

He ended his tribute saying: “We are all so proud at what she achieved – a truly heroic broadcaster and lovely wife, daughter and mum.”

A number of other fellow broadcasters also shared their sadness at the news of her death.

Presenter Zoe Ball tweeted: “Rest in peace dear Rachael. So moved by her strength and bravery, her honesty, as a mum, as a woman.

“Makes you stop to think about how precious our moments here are. She’s helped and will continue to help so many folk fighting cancer and life threatening illnesses.”

Jacqui Oatley wrote: “Sleep tight, dear inspirational Rachael. You’ll never be forgotten…”

Radio 5 Live presenter Anna Foster tweeted: “Fly high Rachael, we’ll never forget you and we’ll make sure your incredible work lives on.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “So sad to hear Rachael Bland has died. She fought so bravely. Her legacy is a testament to how much more we need to do to beat this dreadful disease.”

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