May 13, 2018 / 8:49 AM / 10 months ago

Britain's 'Olympic Games' minister Jowell dies at 70

LONDON (Reuters) - Tessa Jowell, a former British government minister who was instrumental in bringing the Olympic Games to London in 2012, died on Saturday after a brain haemorrhage, her family said.

FILE PHOTO: Labour's Shadow Minister for the Olympics Tessa Jowell attends the UK Creative Industries Forum at the Royal Academy in London July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

Jowell, who was 70, had brain cancer diagnosed in May last year.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair led the tributes to Jowell, saying she had “passion, determination and simple human decency in greater measure than any person I have ever known”.

Jowell joined the government as a minister in the Department for Health after Blair’s Labour Party won the 1997 election by a landslide.

Blair appointed her to the cabinet in 2001 as Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, where she headed London’s successful Olympic Games bid.

The former Prime Minister said Jowell had convinced him to bid for the Games, telling him: “This is a country that should always have the highest ambition.”

She was appointed Olympics Minister after London was awarded the Games in 2005 and remained a member of the 2012 Olympics Organising Committee after Labour lost office in 2010.

After her cancer diagnosis, Jowell campaigned for better treatment for cancer patients from Britain’s state-funded health service.

The government said later on Sunday that it would increase spending on brain cancer research to 40 million pounds in honour of Jowell. It also said that a key diagnosis test used in half of England’s brain cancer centres will be made available nationally.

The pledges follow a meeting Jowell had with Prime Minister Theresa May and health minister Jeremy Hunt in February. 

“Baroness Tessa Jowell faced her illness with dignity and courage - and it was a privilege to host her in Downing Street recently to discuss what more we can do to tackle brain cancer,” May said.

“We send our sincere condolences to her family - and I hope that the actions we are taking now and in the future to improve care and research for those confronting a terrible disease will form part of the lasting legacy of an inspirational woman.”

The five-year research fund will initially total 65 million pounds, comprising 40 million pounds from the government and 25 million pounds from charity Cancer Research UK, the government said.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by John Stonestreet and David Goodman

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