Northern Ireland

Kelly Rowland pays emotional tribute to Co Antrim fan who died of breast cancer

US singer Kelly Rowland
US singer Kelly Rowland US singer Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland paid an emotional tribute to a devoted fan from Northern Ireland who died of breast cancer in March.

Julie Lillis from Co Antrim was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in September 2020. A month later she was told it had spread and significantly reduced her life expectancy.

The former Destiny’s Child singer dedicated her song, Stole to Julie.

Whilst headlining a music festival in London on Saturday night she said: “This song I want to dedicate to my darling Julie, who has been with Destiny’s Child and me my whole career. Julie I love you, this one’s for you.”

Julie Lillis from Larne in Co Antrim, died from breast cancer in March
Julie Lillis from Larne in Co Antrim, died from breast cancer in March Julie Lillis from Larne in Co Antrim, died from breast cancer in March

Despite her illness, Julie was a passionate cancer campaigner. When she found out her cancer was incurable, she embarked upon a 300km cycle around Northern Ireland for local cancer charities.

She also attempted to raise funds for a potentially lifesaving cancer treatment that was not provided by the NHS. Kelly donated £28,000 to this effort and along with additional donations £105,590 was raised for Julie before her death.

The Whiteabbey woman was also a much loved member of the local film and television industry. Working in production office roles on popular projects such as Derry Girls, Dracula: Untold, Game of Thrones, Nova Jones and many more.

The national film and TV agency for NI, Northern Ireland Screen, said it was “deeply saddened” to hear of Julie’s death.

Cancer Focus NI who Julie had previously raised £5,000 for also paid tribute to her, remembering her, “humour, kindness and knowledge”, naming her a “trailblazing campaigner".