Read time:2 minute, 18 seconds

Fans of Leah Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate, have raised more than £50,000 and counting for treatment.

Actress Leah Bracknell has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, it was reported yesterday.

The former Emmerdale star, who played the first lesbian to come out in a British soap, first felt unwell five weeks ago after experiencing breathlessness walking up a flight of stairs, and a few days later was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

Following the news, fans of the 51-year-old rushed to a GoFundMe page set up by Bracknell’s partner Jez Hughes to raise money for treatment at a specialist clinic Germany.

Writing on the page, Bracknell said: “I have been diagnosed with lung cancer, stage 4. In their opinion, that means it’s terminal, not curable, not operable. A fairly brutal and bleak diagnosis but one I am determined to challenge and see from the perspective of ‘a glass half full’, going against a lifetime of pessimism, negativity and fear!”

She went on: “Please imagine me writing this and speaking in quite an upbeat and cheerful voice. Do NOT imagine me sitting here writing through a veil of tears. I am not. Or feeling sorry for myself. I am not (yet).

“My priority is getting well and strong, so that I can continue to endeavour to be a good, mother, daughter, wife, or at least the best I can be. My priority is to defy expectation. My priority is to love, to laugh, and, as Bob said, to ‘keep on keepin’ on’.”

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Bracknell appeared in Doctors, Judge John Deed and The Royal Today, but is best known as veterinarian Zoe Tate, who she played for more than 16 years, making history as the first lesbian character in a British soap and one of the longest-running LGBT characters in TV. Bracknell also won praise for shining a light on mental health issues, and in 2002 was nominated for Most Popular Actress at the National Television Awards.

Urging fans to support his partner, Hughes said: “Over the years she has given so much to so many. As an award winning actress and the first lesbian in soap, she helped raise awareness of LGBT issues and later her sensitive portrayal of a Schizophrenic breakdown, brought a lot of attention to mental illness.”

He added: “She still feels she has so much to give and share, not just those she loves, but through her teaching and healing work.”

Over £50,000 has been raised via

Leah Bracknell
As Zoe Tate on Emmerdale

This article first appeared on our Twin Media site:


About the author

Carrie Lyell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Latest articles