BBC news reader and podcaster Rachael Bland passed away peacefully this morning after a battle with cancer, her husband has announced.
Bland, 40, revealed on Monday that she had only days to live after being diagnosed with an incurable cancer.
The BBC 5 Live news reader also co-hosted the You, Me and the Big C podcast with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon, and confirmed that they planned to carry on without her.
Bland passed away at home shortly after 3am surrounded by close family.
She leaves behind husband Steve and son Freddie, three. The couple were due to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary on September 14.
Steve paid tribute in a statement today, saying: “Rachael’s death has left a huge hole in our perfect little family that we’ll never be able to fill.
“She was an incredibly talented broadcaster as well as a wonderful and much loved daughter, sister, aunt, niece, wife and, most importantly to her, a mother to her precious little Freddie.
“We all take such huge comfort and pride from the amazing and tireless work she has done since her diagnosis to reduce the stigma around cancer and prove that it is possible to live life to the fullest even when facing huge challenges on a daily basis.
“At the end, even though her body was at its weakest, her voice was at its strongest and most powerful.
“Rachael was and will always be an incredible inspiration to everyone she met. To us, she was perfect in every way and we will miss her more than words can say.
“We just ask that everyone respects our family’s privacy as we try and come to terms with losing our beautiful girl.”
Jonathan Wall, controller of BBC Radio 5 Live, called Bland “part of the fabric” of the radio station and said: “Today is a very sad day for all of us and so many of our listeners.
“She was a very talented broadcaster and a beautiful loyal colleague to so many.
“More than that, she turned the final year of her life into the finest year of her life, delivering the most important broadcasting I have ever heard about living with cancer and ultimately facing death because of cancer. She has made a profound difference to so many lives.
“We are all so proud at what she achieved – a truly heroic broadcaster and lovely wife, daughter and mum.”
After her death was announced this morning, 5 Live broadcast a special tribute to Bland, speaking to those who knew her best and charities she had worked with as well as reading out messages from listeners.
Bland joined the BBC in 2001 at Radio Wiltshire before joining the BBC News Channel as a presenter and 5 Live as a newsreader on the late-night show with Richard Bacon and then Tony Livesey.
Hers was the first voice to be heard on 5 Live from its new studios in Salford in 2011, and began working as a presenter on the station as well as on North West Tonight on BBC One.
She was reunited with Livesey last year when she began working as a newsreader on his drivetime show.
In a tribute today, Livesey said: “5 Live’s lost one of its brightest spirits. I’m going into cliché territory now so she’ll be pressing an alarm somewhere, but she was beautiful inside and out. She was such a lovely person.
“Rachael Bland – presenter, friend to most of us, inspiration to all. Radio 5 Live is broadcasting with a broken heart. We’ve lost one of our brightest talents.”
BBC director-general Tony Hall also paid tribute, saying: “Rachael was a popular and inspiring journalist. Everyone has been moved by her courage and dignity.
“She will be hugely missed by her many listeners and by staff across the BBC. Our sympathies go out to her family and many friends at this difficult time.”
After her cancer diagnosis in 2016, Bland began writing about her illness on her blog Big C, Little Me, and regularly appeared on 5 Live Daily with Emma Barnett to tell listeners about her story.
She began the You, Me and the Big C podcast with James and Mahon last year to talk openly and frankly about their experiences with cancer.
The podcast rose to the top of the iTunes chart this week after Bland announced she had just days to live.
Picture: Claire Wood/BBC/PA Wire