Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell passed away last month, following a three year battle with lung cancer.
She was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2016, but battled the disease for three years which she used to raise awareness on her blog ‘Something beginning with C’.
Leah described herself as a ‘cancer rebel’, where she was determined to life life to the fullest despite her tragic diagnosis.
Her husband Jez Hughes took to Facebook to thank fans, family and friends for messages of support, admitting that he hadn’t yet responded as he didn’t ‘have the words in him’.
His post made tribute to his late wife, where he wrote, ‘My darling wife, best friend and soul mate flies free in spirit.
‘I have been the luckiest man in the world to spend time walking, dancing, laughing, praying, dreaming, singing, drumming, talking, travelling, crying, planning, hoping, loving, going wild, exploring, rebelling, forgiving, celebrating, playing, sharing secrets at dawn, opening hearts, minds and soul- alongside a woman of such depth, power, humour, humility, honour, intelligence and love – it is impossible to do justice to with the transient, flimsy power of words.’
Leah Bracknell’s real name was Alison, known as Ali for short, and had been married to Jez Hughes since 2017.
He continued, ‘Ali is the bravest person I’ve ever met and she faced the last three years of cancer with dignity, grace and light. She shone bright in this world with fire in her heart and water in her soul. The great mystery of existence always visible through her beautiful eyes.
‘She inspired and changed the lives of so many, loved ones and strangers alike. Every day I learn of more people who she helped which brings the warmth of pride and gratitude to have known her into my heart. She taught me more than I’m able to comprehend and we shared more than I dreamt was possible in this life. More than either of us thought was possible.’
Jez ended his post on a heartbreaking note, admitting that the pain he was feeling was ‘intense’, ‘My heart is truly broken and the pain is intense as I wander aimlessly, waiting to awake from this dream, from hour to hour, day to day. My only prayer is that through the burning down of everything that I hold sacred and precious, through this raw, primal, timeless wound, something else will arise and I am able to embody just a little of Ali’s grace, bravery, tenacity, and lightness, in order to serve her legacy well in the world.’
Leah Bracknell was most well known for her work on Emmerdale, where she played Zoe Tate for 16 years. She first appeared on the show in 1989, and Zoe was the first lesbian character on the show when she came out in 1993.
Leah was involved in many big Emmerdale storylines, with her exit from the show in 2005 being particularly dramatic.
The official Emmerdale Twitter account wrote a tribute to her and dedicated two episodes to Leah Bracknell, and her character Zoe.