‘She’s shown no fear, no bitterness’: Damian Lewis pays heartfelt tribute to his wife Helen McCrory after she passed away aged 52 following terminal cancer battle

Damian Lewis has penned a heartfelt tribute to his late wife Helen McCrory after she died of cancer aged just 52.

The actor, 50, confirmed Helen had passed away in a statement issued on Friday following a ‘heroic’ battle with the disease.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Damian said his wife had shown ‘no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity’ during her illness. 

He wrote: ‘Already I miss her. She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine. 

‘In life, too, we had to rise to meet her. But her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to ‘normalise’ her death.

‘She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy. I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.’ 

Damian wrote that he had never known anyone who had been able to enjoy life as much as Helen, who had kept her cancer diagnosis private. 

The actor added that the Peaky Blinders star did not believe in self-reflection or ‘navel-gazing’ and so was able to ‘turn her light so brightly on others’. 

Damian also wrote of his sadness that Helen’s passing meant she had left their children, daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, ‘too early’.

He said the actress had told her children to not be sad shortly before her death because she had lived the life she wanted to. 

Damian wrote that only a few weeks ago Helen joked to him and their children from her bed that she wanted ‘Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them’ but said he should try get through the funeral without snogging someone.  

He stood by the actress’ side as she secretly battled the disease, with Helen brushing off her hoarse voice in her final TV appearance last month to selflessly talk about their charity work. 

The couple’s devotion to one another shone brightly for all to see, with Damian saying the actress died peacefully at home surrounded by ‘peace and love’ and their children. 

Helen’s close friend Carrie Cracknell revealed those close to the Peaky Blinders star ‘were sworn to secrecy’ when it came to her cancer battle.

Discussing her friend’s tragic passing on Saturday, Cracknell, 41 – who is a theatre director – told BBC Radio Four’s Today: ‘Helen wanted to be very private about her illness. Very few people knew. We were sworn to secrecy.’

Touching upon 52-year-old McCrory’s – who passed away on Friday after a ‘heroic’ battle with cancer – resilience, she continued: ‘She faced up to cancer with a level of bravery and humour that was extraordinary.’

Cracknell also said the only reason she had been made aware of McCrory’s diagnoses was because they were planning a Broadway show.

She said: ‘Very few people knew, and I only did because we were planning to transfer a show to Broadway and had to cancel that because she was having treatment. 

‘We were sworn to secrecy.’  

Helen first met Damian in 2003, when they were both cast in the play Five Gold Rings at the off-West End Almeida Theatre. 

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Ray Quinn ‘humbled’ to lay carpets on Brookside Close where career began

Ray Quinn has revealed his new job as a carpet fitter after a ‘nightmare year’ for the entertainment industry.

When the pandemic hit, the X Factor star was left out of work for months on end and decided to learn the family trade to make ends meet.

The chart-topper, who also stole the show on Dancing On Ice in 2009 and in the All Star series in 2014 , began working alongside his brothers Robin and Darren in the carpet trade.

Ray is also following in the footsteps of his late dad Ray, who died of cancer in November.

Ray Quinn is working for his brother’s carpet fitting company

“My dad was a carpet fitter all his life. He taught my brothers how to do it,” said the star.

Speaking to the Mirror, Ray said he was left ‘humbled’ to complete on a job on Liverpool’s Brookside Close – where his career started.

Ray made his screen debut as Anthony Murray on the soap back in 2000, when he was just 12 years old.

Ray started his career in soap Brookside

Ray poses in his work gear by the Brookside Close sign after doing a job nearby

“It was the most humbling feeling. Fond memories came flooding back,” said Ray.

“I had to get a picture, it was like going back in time,” he added.

After returning to his acting roots, Ray had been starring in a play at Liverpool’s Royal Court before the Covid pandemic hit last year.

The theatre was forced to close leaving Ray out of work with no help from the government.

Ray and Leona Lewis on the 2006 series of The X Factor

Before working alongside his brothers, Ray tried his hand at being a delivery driver for Hermes.

“I didn’t want to sit around and feel sorry for myself,” he said, but only stuck with the job for three months.

“It just didn’t stop,” he says. “You can have up to 150 parcels in your van and you’re out from 8am to 6pm.

“It helped put food on the table at the time, but it was ­reported I was earning £11.40 an hour… I definitely wasn’t on that much!”

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British firms are adapting to lockdowns—and confounding forecasters

FORECASTING THE economy during Britain’s first lockdown was relatively straightforward. A walk through any city centre told the same story as the real-time mobility data supplied by Google and Apple: ordering people to stay at home caused a collapse in economic activity. Forecasters accurately predicted the scale of the collapse as Britain experienced its fastest and deepest recession in a century.

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Over the past few months the job has become trickier. Monthly GDP figures have beaten the consensus estimate of independent economists all but once since July (see chart). The second lockdown in November was only half as damaging to the economy as had been expected, and the third lockdown appears to be beating expectations too.

The main reason for this is that firms have adapted to new circumstances faster than expected. Retailers now have click-and-collect sales that allow for continued custom. Hospitality firms are set up for takeaway trade. Many construction and manufacturing businesses, which shut during the first lockdown, have chosen to remain open since.

Despite similar covid-19 restrictions to last April, around 4m fewer workers were furloughed in January. The same month GDP dropped by just 2.9% compared with a 20% fall last spring. And it is not just output that is beating forecasters’ expectations: the public finances appear to be in a healthier state than anticipated and estimates for the peak in unemployment keep being revised down. With the vaccine roll-out proceeding at pace, Britain looks set for rapid growth in the months ahead.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Beating expectations”

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Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel sparks outrage after promoting a QAnon child blood-harvesting theory during online anti-vax COVID conference

The actor who played Jesus in the 2004 film Passion of the Christ has sparked outrage after promoting a QAnon conspiracy theory that suggests thousands of children are being murdered in order to have their adrenal glands harvested for the compound adrenochrome.

Jim Caviezel appeared at a right-wing convention called Clay Clark’s Health and Freedom Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The conference looked to be for attendees to complain about COVID restrictions while claiming that it was part of overall government overreach in forcing people to obey by the restrictions. 

But the conference suddenly took a turn during a seminar on the issue of child trafficking when Caviezel, who was promoting his forthcoming film about the subject, Sound of Freedom. 

Caviezel portrays Timothy Ballard, a former special agent for the Department of Homeland Security whose group, The Nazarene Fund, works to ‘liberate the captive, to free the enslaved, and to rescue, rebuild and restore the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious and ethnic minorities wherever and whenever they are in need.’

Caviezel recounted a conspiracy theory suggesting that elites were drinking the blood of the children in order to benefit from the ‘rejuvenating’ chemical. 

‘They’re pulling kids out of the darkest recesses of hell right now, in dumps and all kinds of places. The adrenochrome-ing of children, look …’  Caviezel said.

Caviezel was then asked to explain further by the MC about adrenochrome and gave more details on what he had heard people were doing to children to retrieve the chemical, but had never actually witnessed it first hand.

‘Essentially, you have adrenaline in your body,’ Caviezel explained. ‘And when you are scared, you produce adrenaline. If you’re an athlete, you get in the fourth quarter, you have adrenaline that comes out of you. If a child knows he’s going to die, his body will secrete this adrenaline. And they have a lot of terms that they use that he takes me through, but it’s the worst horror I’ve ever seen. The screaming alone, even if I never, ever, ever saw it, it’s beyond — and these people that do it, umm, there will be no mercy for them.’ 

The conspiracy theory, a cornerstone of QAnon dogma, holds that a network of politicians and celebrities are torturing and murdering thousands of children to harvest their adrenal glands for compound adrenochrome, which they can then use as an elixir of life as well as a recreational drug.     

QAnon believers think that adrenochrome halts and even reverses the aging process. 

Caviezel’s comments drew outrage online.

‘This makes me sad. He was such a good actor. I think instead of acknowledging that he’s stupid and insane, I’ll just tell myself he is a fading actor in need of financial assistance who accepted money to pretend he’s lost his mind,’ wrote one Twitter user.

‘Why hasn’t the “adrenochroming of children” resulted in a rash of missing children reports or panic at hospital maternity wards? I’m so confused… also, “adrenochroming” isn’t a real word. How do we make the qrazy stop?’ added another.

‘Do they imply in the film that American elites are harvesting the blood of these children so they can appear youthful ? Because we know human trafficking is a huge problem in the world, but it’s ludicrous to think elites and celebrities are harvesting the blood of these victims.’ asked Matty online.

‘I love how they always know exactly what horrible atrocities other people are doing. I’ve yet to see any evidence of those accusations…anywhere,’ wrote Philippe. 

‘Those empty seats behind him are a metaphor for his bleak and lonely ride down the rabbit hole. This is not a mentally sound person. If you believe absurdities, you can commit atrocities,’ tweeted Alex Cole.

The conference which featured a host of far right speakers across the weekend including Michael Flynn, Lin Wood, Sidney Powell and the My Pillow Guy, Mike Lindell is set to end on Saturday night with an event titled ‘It’s Time to Burn Those Masks,’ during which attendees will burn face masks.

The coronavirus pandemic still kills thousands of Americans each week and is seeing a new surge in cases in the U.S. with many states requiring masks to be worn both indoors and outdoors in an even to curb the spread of the disease. 

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Meghan’s note for Prince Philip: Duchess leaves handwritten card on wreath for Duke of Edinburgh at St George’s Chapel

Meghan Markle left a handwritten card on a wreath for the Duke of Edinburgh at St George’s Chapel on the day of his funeral.

The Duchess of Sussex – who is around six-months pregnant with Prince Harry’s second child – was advised not to make the 10-hour flight to Britain for the funeral by her physician.

Instead, she watched the ceremony on television from her and Harry’s £11million mansion in California while the Duke of Sussex attended. 

A wreath from the couple was earlier left in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, to mark their respects, sources told PA news agency.

Meghan and Harry personally chose the locally-sourced flowers for their tribute – including Acanthus mollis (Bear’s breeches), the national flower of Greece, to represent Philip’s heritage, and Eryngium (sea holly), to represent the Royal Marines.

The wreath also features campanula for gratitude and everlasting love, rosemary to signify remembrance, lavender for devotion, and roses in honour of June being Philip’s birth month.

It was designed and handmade by Willow Crossley who arranged the flowers for Harry and Meghan’s evening wedding celebrations in Frogmore Gardens and for the Sussexes’ son Archie’s christening.

Alongside the wreath is a note from Meghan, who is known for her skill at calligraphy. 

The Queen today wiped her eyes as she accompanied Prince Philip’s coffin on its final journey from Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel.

The Royal Family joined her in mourning her husband at his funeral, with Princes William and Harry walking behind the custom Defender Land Rover that was carrying their grandfather’s body – but were several feet apart.

It comes just weeks after the Sussexes plunged the monarchy into crisis when they accused the royals of racism and the institution of failing to support Meghan when she was suicidal in their bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview.

Miss Winfrey’s close friend Gayle King today launched CBS’ coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral without making any mention of Meghan nor the devastating interview she gave Oprah, that CBS promoted and aired just one a month before Philip’s death.

King ran through the order of the day and the order in which the royals will appear. 

She said: ‘Then we’ll see Prince William and Prince Harry…William and Harry, there’s no secret about this, have had a strained relationship you could say since Harry stepped away from his royal duties.’

She then, during a talk-back- former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, said there was ‘family drama’ that the world was speculating over. 

‘Are we reading too much into the body language? They didn’t stand shoulder to shoulder when their mother was buried. This was by the Queen’s design,’ she said. 

Harry and William walked behind the custom Defender Land Rover that was carrying their grandfather’s body but were several feet apart. 

King said Harry had been in quarantine until ‘this morning’ after flying to the UK without his pregnant wife Meghan. 

‘A lot has been made…at the end of the day, this is a family that’s grieving. I would suspect all of the family differences would be set aside for the day,’ she said.   

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National Minute’s Silence and gun salutes mark start of Prince Philip’s funeral

People across the UK have observed a minute’s silence for the Duke of Edinburgh in unison with mourners at his funeral.

As members of the royal family fell silent at 3pm at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, members of the public across the country – and Prime Minister Boris Johnson – did the same.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a gunshot to signal the start of the silence at Windsor, with the pallbearers carrying Philip’s coffin and members of the royal family following it pausing in their positions, while those already inside the chapel also fell silent.

Gun salutes took place at the same time performed by royal regiments at sites including Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, Cardiff Castle and Edinburgh Castle, as well as on Royal Navy warships deployed in Portsmouth, Devonport and overseas.

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Duke of Edinburgh: Scotland remembers Prince Philip

He said: “Over the last few days, many different tribes and nations have, with some justification, laid claim to the duke, and while I seek no argument with those who claim that he was ‘thoroughly European’, ‘archetypically British’, ‘adopted by the Commonwealth’, ‘Baptised Orthodox’, ‘Confirmed Anglican’ or whatever – let me try to set the record straight.

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Queen sits alone to remember Prince Philip at funeral

Wearing a black face mask she arrived at St George’s Chapel in a Bentley, to remember her husband of 73 years.

Due to strict coronavirus restrictions the Queen was forced to sit through the 50 minute service by herself.

Prince Charles had tears in his eyes as he walked behind his father’s casket which had been draped in the duke’s own personal standard and topped with a sword, a naval cap and a wreath of flowers.

Although only 30 members of the Royal Family were allowed inside the church, 730 members of the armed forces took part military marches ahead of the event.

Following a national minute’s silence the service was carried out by the Dean of Windsor David Conner and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

There was no sermon and no eulogy in line with the duke’s wishes.

Philip’s life and legacy were remembered during the ceremony which reflected on his naval career, passion for engineering and dedication to the Queen.

The duke was described as enriching the lives of all those he knew with his “kindness, humour and humanity”.

The Dean of Windsor said Philip’s life had been “a blessing”.

“We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our Queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith,” he said.

“Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humour and humanity.”

The duke’s coffin was transported to the chapel in a customised Land Rover as senior members of the Royal Family followed.

Princes William and Harry did not walk shoulder to shoulder during the procession but did sit opposite each other during the service.

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Liz Truss and the power of perkiness

LIZ TRUSS’s fellow MPs tend to treat her as a bit of a joke. A dull speaker in a profession that values powerful rhetoric and a relentless self-promoter in a world that relishes cutting people down to size, after seven years in cabinet she only holds the lowly job of trade secretary. “Cringe-making”, “insubstantial” and “a robot with a bit missing” are just a few of her colleagues’ brickbats.

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Yet this month she topped Conservative Home’s monthly Cabinet league table for the fifth time in a row. With 89 points, she beats the highly regarded chancellor, Rishi Sunak (79 points), by a length and the prime minister (61 points) by several. The league table reflects the opinions of party activists, who matter in Tory politics not just because they make key decisions (Boris Johnson was selected as prime minister by a constituency of 160,000 party members) but also because they both create and reflect wider currents of opinion. What is it about Ms Truss that the Conservative grassroots finds so endearing?

A big part of the answer lies in the fact that she’s utterly unapologetic about her Toryism. Nothing annoys the base more than self-styled progressives’ conviction that they are on the right side of history. And nothing excites them so much as Conservatives who believe that Conservatives are the real progressives and progressives the true reactionaries. Margaret Thatcher seized the mantle of economic progress for her party. But David Cameron’s modernisation strategy consisted of endorsing the left’s cultural agenda—in essence, forcing Daily Telegraph readers to take the knee to the Guardian. Then Brexit shattered the Tories’ unity on economics: Remainers accused Brexiteers of wrecking the economy and Brexiteers focused on sovereignty rather than prosperity. This created a market for an unashamed champion of both economic and cultural Tory values.

Despite voting Remain in the referendum, Ms Truss responded to doubts about Britain’s ability to deliver independent trade deals with a whirlwind of activity. Remainers lauded the European Union’s trade deal with Japan while mocking Britain’s “flailing” negotiating team. Ms Truss beat the EU to the finishing line. Remainers argued that Britain lacked the necessary heft to negotiate trade agreements around the world. Ms Truss’s officials have done deals with 65 countries.

Trade experts are unimpressed: they point out that most of Ms Truss’s trade deals are rollovers—mere “cut and paste jobs”—and that the deal with Japan would add a mere 0.07% to GDP, a small fraction of the loss from lower trade with the EU. But the trade secretary calculates that bubbly optimism beats technocratic nit-picking. She describes the Japan deal as “a ground-breaking, British-shaped deal” and “just a glimpse of global Britain’s potential”; her department celebrated it by tweeting a photograph of a bottle of Japanese soy sauce during an edition of “The Great British Bake Off”, claiming that it would soon be cheaper.

When it comes to her other portfolio—equalities—Ms Truss has adopted the posture of Oliver Cromwell’s “plain russet-coated captain who knows what he fights for and loves what he knows”. She has decisively broken with Mr Cameron’s strategy of conceding the moral high ground to the left—most notably by rejecting the case for “self-identification” for trans people under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act but more generally by arguing that the best way to promote equality is to remove barriers to effort rather than for the state to hand down rights from on high.

The Truss style is a distinctive mixture of classlessness and perkiness. She’s a “clean skin”, as one Tory puts it: a Tory by conviction rather than inheritance who doesn’t belong to any of the familiar Conservative tribes—grandees, shire-dwellers, nouveaux riches, or, more recently, no-nonsense Northerners. She grew up in Leeds—hence her politically useful Yorkshire accent—but is the daughter of left-wing professionals (her father was a professor of mathematics) who took her on CND marches when she was growing up and pointedly sent her to the local comprehensive rather than the grammar school.

She remains perky in even the most perk-shrivelling circumstances: she won her Norfolk seat despite attempts by the local “Turnip Taliban” to deselect her over her affair with a married Tory MP, Mark Field, and became a cocky chief secretary to the Treasury despite failing dismally as Lord Chancellor. Nothing is too trivial for her to tweet or post on Instagram and no phrase too cringe-making for her to seize upon: she recently celebrated her move to Ian Fleming’s former office in the Old Admiralty Building by declaring that “Liz Truss: licence to trade” is in town.

The other source of Ms Truss’s appeal is her libertarianism. She shares Thatcher’s enthusiasm for unleashing the market, shrinking the state and breaking up cosy cartels. During her abortive bid for the leadership in 2019 she argued that Britain should “build a million homes on the London Green Belt’‘ and tear up job-destroying occupational licences. But she also adds a modern twist to Thatcherism. A fan of “digital disruption”, she celebrates “our nation of Airbnb-ing, Deliveroo-eating, Uber-riding freedom-fighters’‘. A scourge of big government, she sticks up for Britons’ inalienable right to stuff themselves with doughnuts washed down with sugary drinks.

Ms Truss’s unapologetic Toryism makes her an ideal ally for Mr Johnson—a man who believes that offence is the best form of defence. But her libertarianism points to a possible problem. Mr Johnson has thrown his weight behind a post-Thatcherite conservatism that celebrates active government and regional redistribution. Ms Truss’s popularity suggests that there is a limit to the party’s willingness to tolerate that switch, and her soaring ambition and limitless self-regard suggest that she expects a big job in the next cabinet reshuffle. Ms Truss is worth watching not just for the usual runners-and-riders reasons but also because she illuminates a widening division in conservatism.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “The power of perkiness”

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Dawn breaks over Windsor on day of Prince Philip’s funeral: Queen prepares to bid farewell to her husband of 73 years at service that will mark his ‘unwavering loyalty’

A golden glow fell over the grounds of Windsor Castle this morning as dawn broke on the day HRH Prince Philip will be laid to rest. 

The eyes of the world will be on the royal residence today as the Queen says her final goodbye to the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband, ‘strength and stay’ of 73 years.

In pre-pandemic times thousands of mourners would have travelled to the Berkshire town to pay their respects, but the Royal Family, the Government and police are asking the public to stay away.

Early this morning members of the armed forces, police, security and the media were taking up positions around the castle ahead of this afternoon’s ceremony.

While much of the typical pageantry has been pared back, Buckingham Palace says it will still reflect Philip’s life of service and the plans he himself spent years fine-tuning. 

Right down to the bespoke Land Rover hearse to carry his own coffin, the event will be executed with Philip’s characteristic military precision, leading up to the 3pm service at St George’s Chapel. 

The first glimpses inside the chapel shows the Duke’s insignia, Field Marshal’s baton, RAF wings and decorations from Denmark and Greece resting on cushions at the altar.

The Queen, 94, will say a private farewell to her husband before his body is driven to the chapel tailed by a small procession including Philip’s four children and three grandsons. 

Sources say she has been the ‘epitome of dignity’ this week, and the Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to her ‘extraordinary dignity and courage’.

Justin Welby, who will praise Philip’s ‘life of service to the nation and Commonwealth’ at the service, added that he hoped the nation prayed for her and ‘hope for her to find strength in what must be an anguished moment’.

As the Queen prepared to lead the nation in mourning: 

It was a crisp Spring day at Windsor this morning, with sunshine forecast for most of the day.  

Signs have been erected around the town urging members of the public to stay away from the grounds and other royal residences. 

Police patrols have been stepped up to enforce Covid rules, which bans large gatherings. 

Marshals have also been drafted in to help and were seen trooping through the town in high-vis jackets. 

As with all royal events, there was tight security and police divers were pictured searching a drain near the grounds. 

Reporters were struck by how quiet Windsor was this morning, drawing contrast with past major events such as Harry and Meghan’s 2018 wedding when the streets were filled with royal fans.   

But a visible armed forces presence is on display, reflecting the Duke’s wishes for a military rather than a state funeral.

Philip served with distinction as a Naval officer in the Second World War and had association with all forces while the Queen’s consort.  

The duke’s coffin, draped in his personal standard and bearing his naval cap, sword and a wreath of flowers, will first be seen at 2.41pm today when it emerges from the State Entrance to Windsor Castle carried by a bearer party from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

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