Esther Rantzen thanks Express readers for giving her ‘strength’ | UK | News

December 22, 2023
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Emotional Dame Esther Rantzen says the huge outpouring of love and support from Daily Express readers has given her “strength when I need it most”.

The veteran TV star, who has terminal cancer, is fighting to legalise assisted dying, backing our crusade to force a change in the law.

Impassioned readers have flooded our inbox with heartfelt messages for Dame Esther, wishing her a Happy Christmas and throwing their support behind her.

Lifelong campaigner Dame Esther, 83, who is battling stage 4 lung cancer, has used her plight to highlight a cruel injustice preventing the sick from having control over their death.

And in a sincere message to you all on the eve of a Christmas she thought she would not live to see, she said: “I am so grateful to the readers of the Express for their wonderful support. I wish them much happiness over Christmas and let’s hope 2024 is a good year for all of us. Thank you so much for your kindness, you have given me strength when I need it most.”

Since revealing she had signed up to Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas Dame Esther has been inundated with touching and deeply personal testimonies from those in similar situations.

She is demanding a full Parliamentary debate and free vote on assisted dying to end a scandal that sees some forced to pay £10,000 to fly to Zurich to end their lives.

Her plea to reform an “outdated law” comes as she argues it should be “perfectly possible to create a humane way to allow us all to decide when our suffering is too much, and to give us the choice, while making sure proper precautions are in place”.

And in a direct appeal to MPs, she said: “All we ask is the choice. It’s our life, and it will be our death.”

Dame Esther supports this newspaper’s Give Us Our Last Rights campaign, which has fought for a change in the law on assisted dying. We are launching a petition calling for a Parliamentary debate and a vote of conscience by MPs in conjunction with charity Dignity in Dying which says the current law offers families no protection or support.

Dame Esther says the issue goes beyond party politics and reform “would give terminally ill people and their families the reassurance, the confidence, the comfort of knowing that we can have a quiet, peaceful death with dignity, if and when we ask for it”.

The campaigning Express has been deluged with messages from those suffering in silence, grateful the paper and its supporters are championing a cause long ignored by lawmakers but important to so many.

In a barrage of correspondence highlighting the strength of feeling on the subject many singled out Dame Esther, who set up the charity ChildLine to protect children in 1986, and The Silver Line to provide comfort to lonely and isolated older people in 2013, for leading the way.

All wanted to convey their love, best wishes and to say what a huge difference she had made to their lives over decades tackling uncomfortable subjects.

Dame Esther candidly said she would be prepared to “buzz off” to Zurich if the “miracle medication” she is taking stops working. But outdated laws mean her family, who are also coming to terms with her disease, face 14 years in prison should they accompany her.

The redoubtable campaigner is now preparing to hunker down with her nearest and dearest for a family Christmas none thought possible after she received her diagnosis in January.

Daughter Rebecca, 43, is welcoming her siblings, Dame Esther’s two other children from her marriage to the late Desmond Wilcox, Miriam and Joshua, together with her beloved grandchildren, Benji, 11, and Alexander, 8, Teddy, 8, and twins Florence and Romilly, 5.

She said: “This is the Christmas I thought I wouldn’t see so I’m looking forward to spending it with my family again, an extra precious present I didn’t expect.

“I know the memory of a bad death obliterates the happy memories that you would want to hang on to, but the memory of a good death is comforting for all those involved.

“So I would say to MPs make this personal because there is no more personal decision than your own life or your own death.”



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