16 October 2019 20:59
The 90s soap favourite was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2016 but defied the odds to battle the disease for three years. 15 Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has died aged 55 15 Leah Bracknell posted her last selfie on Instagram in July The actress passed away last month but news of her death was only revealed today. Leah Bracknell was best known for her role as Zoe Tate on Emmerdale, a character she played for almost 16 years between 1989 and 2005. The married mum-of-two made history by becoming the first lesbian character in the soap. When she left the show, the episode was voted the Best Exit at the British Soap Awards in May 2006.
In October 2016, Bracknell revealed she had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 52. She had sought medical help the month before after rapidly gaining weight around her abdomen and suffering constant breathlessness. After she was diagnosed, fans helped her raise more than £50,000 on a GoFundMe page launched by her husband, Jez Hughes, to undergo groundbreaking treatment in Germany. She started taking new medication, but later revealed that it had failed. 15 Leah Bracknell shared her hospital journey on Instagram Credit: Instagram 15 In the weeks before her death, Leah Bracknell posted this picture of herself working on Emmerdale in 1990 Credit: Instagram 15 Leah Bracknell pictured with her husband Jez Hughes Credit: Facebook 15 Zoe Tate became the first lesbian character in the history of Emmerdale 15 Leah Bracknell first appeared on the TV show in 1989 Credit: Rex Features 15 Leah Bracknell inspired fans and cancer sufferers during her cancer battle Credit: Instagram Bracknell appeared in public numerous times over the past three years, discussing living with cancer. She spoke openly about her numerous methods to ease her symptoms, and wrote about her experiences on her blog, 'Something Beginning With C'. A statement from Bracknell's manager said: "It is with the deepest sadness that Leah Bracknell's family confirm that Leah passed away in September, three years after her diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer. "They would like to thank all the public for their support and generosity which contributed to the extension and quality of her life over the past three years. "Leah continued to embrace life and faced her illness with positivity. Many aspects of her journey can be found on her blog. "Leah was best known and much loved as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale. Cancer victim Leah Bracknell credits Emmerdale fans for her strength 15 She left Emmerdale in 2005 in an episode voted the Best Exit at the British Soap Awards in May 2006 Credit: Instagram 15 Sh was born Alison Rosalind Bracknell on July 12, 1964 Credit: PA:Press Association 15 Leah Bracknell was best known for playing vet Zoe Tate in ITV soap Emmerdale (pictured with co-star John Middleton) Credit: Rex Features 15 Through her character the show tackled difficult subjects including homophobia Credit: Rex Features 15 The 54-year-old was told three years ago that she had stage four lung cancer, which has a life-expectancy of eight months Credit: Rex Features 15 Leah Bracknell became one of the Yorkshire soap's most recognised stars Credit: Facebook 15 After she was diagnosed, fans helped her raise more than £50,000 to undergo groundbreaking treatment in Germany. Credit: Twitter "She also had roles in Judge John Deed, A Touch of Frost, The Royal Today and DCI Banks to name just a few, as well as numerous appearances on stage and in pantomime. "As well as acting, Leah was also an accomplished yoga teacher and shamanic healer. "Leah had an energy and enthusiasm for life, a kind heart and much love to give to those around her. "Her family have asked for privacy at this very sad time." ITV has paid tribute to Bracknell, calling her a "hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast". MOST READ IN SHOWBIZ DADDY DUTIES Dec Donnelly takes daughter Isla and dog Rocky for a walk with wife Ali REALITY RICH Anna Vakili says she's made so much money that her mum doesn't have to work 'bursting!' Hollyoaks' Nadine Mulkerrin gives birth to baby with co-star Rory Douglas-Speed Exclusive burned out New pics show just how mucky Katie Price's mansion really is with scorched walls COOKING UP A ROMANCE Gordon Ramsay reveals daughter Tilly is 'dating' Gino D'Acampo's son HENCREDIBLE Lisa Faulkner joined by Amanda Holden and Tamzin Outhwaite on wild hen party house proud Peter Andre has kids back to his clean home after ex Katie reveals mucky house BAKING BAD Bake Off fans protest as Henry Bird is axed after disgusting Paul Hollywood TRASH PALACE Katie Price horrifies fans with look inside her very mucky mansion John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, said in a statement: "Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell. "Leah was a hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast for over 16 years. During that time she featured in some of the show's most high-profile and explosive plots and always delivered a pitch perfect performance. "Zoe Tate was one of soap's first lesbian characters and Leah made sure the character was both exciting and credible. Leah herself was a very generous and caring colleague, much loved by cast and crew alike.