A cancer facility has had a building named after late This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson.
“Denise sadly lost her battle with cancer, but at this new centre others affected by the disease can now receive support, advice and all sorts of therapies. I had the honour of officially opening it on behalf of my dear friend. Hundreds of people turned out to show their support, including Denise’s husband Bryan and son Mark.” – Dr Chris Steele
On February 19th this year Denise broke the news, via This Morning, that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. However the 83-year-old matriarch of the series kept optimistic, especially after the hundreds of thousands of messages of love and support she received from viewers, which she thanked them via telephone on the show on March 3rd; ‘Can I just say how much it’s meant to me – all the love and support that’s come in from all of you – from colleagues, from viewers, it really is the most enormous help.’ Now nine months since the tragic passing of ITV’s beloved agony aunt, her friend and colleague, Dr Chris Steele, last week travelled to the North East to visit charity F.A.C.T – a cause close to Denise’s heart – to open a new cancer treatment centre in her name.
During footage of the opening of the new centre, Dr Chris said, “Denise was a very kind and warm-hearted lady on screen but also off screen and she supported a lot of charities in the North East, which of course was where she was from. She was a patron of Fighting All Cancers Together [F.A.C.T] and to say thank you for all her hardwork and support over the years they are opening a new care centre in Newcastle in her honour.”
“At the time we were signing the lease for this building, Denise was poorly and we sadly lost her, and we decided it was a fitting tribute to Denise to name the building after her so she has a lasting recognition of what she did.” – Joanne Smith, Founder of FACT
Denise passed away on March 31st after a short hosipitalisation for pancreatic cancer. Denise started her television agony aunt career on BBC One’s Breakfast Time, later also appearing alongside Eamonn Holmes on the beeb’s Open Air morning show. She quit television to become a full time author but was lured back to screens by Granada Television in 1988 for the launch of This Morning. She told the programme executives she’d “do a month”. She remained with the show for nearly thirty years.
“She is pride of place here in our corridor and is the only picture that has a golden frame because she was our golden lady. And when she wasn’t sitting here dispensing her words of wisdom that helped so many of you, Denise worked tirelessly for dozens of charities, and earlier this week, Dr Chris went to find out how one of those charities are ensuring that her name lives on.” – This Morning presenter Ruth Langsford.
Born Margaret Denise Broderick on June 9th 1932 in Sunderland, the daughter of a ship broker, she first worked as a medical secretary at both the Sunderland Royal Infirmary and later Monkwearmouth Hospital. She was first seen on television in 1972 on the BBC’s A Special Review, which looked at her work and life following an award win for her first television drama The Soda Water Fountain – which she wrote in 1971, airing on the beeb in 1972.
Following the death of her first husband Alexander Robertson later that same year she turned to writing novels, this lead to feature writing for magazines which lead into an agony aunt column. By the mid-1980s she was working as a television agony aunt for the BBC before switching to ITV for the beginnings of their daytime schedules in 1988. In the late 1970s she married John “Jack” Tomlin who passed away in 1995, her return to the programme following his death became one of her most moving appearances as she thanked viewers for their kindess.
In 2006 she was honoured with an MBE for “services to Broadcasting and to Charity” while in 1998, Denise was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham and was given the Freedom of the City of Sunderland. She married her third husband Bryan Thubron in 1997.