Sir Elton John and former prime minister Sir Tony Blair have joined an outpouring of tributes from the political and entertainment worlds to the husband of TV presenter Kate Garraway, Derek Draper.
The 56-year-old former political adviser has died after several years of serious health complications due to coronavirus.
“I am so sad to hear the news about Derek. My heart goes out to Kate and their children William and Darcey,” Sir Tony Blair said.
“He was a tough sometimes ruthless political operative, a brilliant adviser and someone you always wanted on your side.
“But underneath that tough exterior he was a loving, kind, generous and good natured man you wanted as a friend.”
Meanwhile, Sir Elton John sent his “love and thoughts” to Garraway.
In response to her post on Instagram announcing the death, the musician wrote: “So sorry to hear of this news, Kate. Love and thoughts to you and your family x.”
Draper attended the Rocket Man’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road concert at London’s O2 Arena in April after being invited along with Garraway as the guests of honour.
Fellow Good Morning Britain host Charlotte Hawkins also shared her sympathies with Garraway.
Alongside a photo of Draper and Garraway which Hawkins posted to Instagram, she wrote: “Such desperately sad news about Derek.
“It’s been an incredibly tough time for all the family & Kate has been so strong throughout all this – please send her your love & prayers so she knows we’re all here for her.”
Garraway confirmed her “darling husband” had died and she had been “by his side holding his hand throughout his last long hours” earlier today.
She said he suffered a heart attack in early December, adding that “the damage inflicted by COVID… led to further complications”.
Among the thousands of replies were tributes from fellow Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid, singer Alesha Dixon and Line Of Duty actress Vicky McClure.
“Our whole hearts are with you,” Reid wrote.
McClure added: “So so sorry to hear this Kate. Sending all my love to you and your family xxx”.
Meanwhile, fellow ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly described Garraway as an “astonishing woman” who did her husband “proud”.
Garraway “has been so strong and brave,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Thoughts with her and her children and family. She was right by his side until the end and did him proud. An astonishing woman.”
Draper was a prominent figure in the Labour party in the 1990s.
Sir Tony described him as “an important part of the New Labour story, at the centre of things right at the beginning”.
Former Number 10 director of communications Alastair Campbell added: “Very sad to hear the news about Derek Draper. He was a huge character, a giver not a taker, and had so much more to give before Covid took its toll”.
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