Entertainment

Zoe Ball remembers her late boyfriend Billy Yates in poignant birthday post

The Radio 2 star said that he is “always in his old (heart) of mine”.

Zoe Ball has paid a touching tribute to her late partner Billy Yates on what would have been his birthday.

The Radio 2 presenter and TV broadcaster posted a picture of Mr Yates – who took his own life in 2017 – lighting a lantern on Instagram.

She wrote: “Beautiful full moon for your birthday eve Billface.

“Your star still shines the brightest up there. Fly forever free. Always in this old (heart) of mine.”

Ball received messages from fans and friends following her tribute to Mr Yates, with the likes of Martine McCutcheon, Sarah Millican, Kate Thornton among those lending their support.

Ball, 48, was in a relationship with Mr Yates, a cameraman, when he was found dead at his London home in May 2017 at the age of 40.

She was thought to have been with him for several months following her split from husband of 18 years Norman Cook, known as DJ Fatboy Slim, in September 2016.

In early 2018, the broadcaster took part in a charity 350-mile bike ride, raising more than £500,000 for Sport Relief in the fundraiser inspired by Mr Yates.

Ahead of the trip, Ball visited some mental health organisations as she tried to understand what was being done for patients and why suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.

Ball said after losing her partner she hoped to “give people living with mental illness a way to find some hope – and begin those vital conversations that can ultimately be life-saving”.

She told the Mirror: “So many people as the week went on, either in person or on social media, spoke to me about their own ­experiences. There was even a note left on the windscreen of the support vehicle overnight from a woman who’d also lost someone close to her.

“I had taken on the challenge because I felt compelled to do something positive in my boyfriend’s memory after he died last year following a long struggle with depression.”

Ball said meeting various people struggling with mental health as well as support workers left her feeling “personally stronger and with a clearer sense of practical help that really can make a difference to people struggling with depression, anxiety, bereavement or even considering the most final action of ending their life”.

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