Agony aunt Claire Rayner has died at the age of 79. That’s sad isn’t it? Yes, it is still sad even when you consider that she gave birth to Jay Rayner, grumpy faced TV foodie. We shouldn’t joke really as he’s no doubt grieving like nobody’s business today.
Anyway, Claire Rayner – writer and broadcaster – had suffered from cancer for many years. The former nurse was reported to have told her relatives she wanted her last words to be: “Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him.”
What a brilliant notion!
In May, she had intestinal surgery from which she failed to recover and died in hospital near her home in Harrow, north west London, on Monday.
Her husband, Des, has said:
“Right up until her death she was being consulted by both politicians and the medical profession about the best way to provide the health services the nation deserved and nothing mattered to her more than that. Her death leaves a vacancy which will not be filled.”
It’s certainly true to say that Claire Rayner was one of the few people hecklerspray actually thought was a nice person to have around the place.
Rayner was born in London and, interesting enough, was the great-niece of English comedy legend Stan Laurel. She trained as a nurse at the Royal Northern and Guy’s Hospitals in London before eventually making her way toward being an agony aunt in newspapers and making appearances on the small screen.
It seems she was well placed to give advice to those having a tough time as, through details in her autobiography, she revealed a childhood marred by physical and mental cruelty at the hands of her parents.
Rayner was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 at the age of 71 and became a breast cancer activist in order to promote the work of the charity Cancer Research UK.
Her husband again:
“Through her work she helped hundreds of thousands of people and doubtless, by talking frankly about the importance of safe sex in the 80s when almost nobody else would discuss it, helped to save thousands of lives.