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Sunday, 4 March, 2001, 15:14 GMT
Farewell to John Diamond
John Diamond and Nigella Lawson
John Diamond with his wife Nigella Lawson last November
The funeral of columnist and broadcaster John Diamond, who died aged 47 from throat cancer, has taken place.

Family and friends of the writer gathered to pay their last respects at a service at the West London Crematorium at noon on Sunday.

Diamond, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997 and wrote about his struggle with the disease in a column in The Times.

The father-of-two kept writing right up to his death on Friday at London's Royal Marsden Hospital.

Following his death, tributes flooded in for Diamon, who was married to journalist and cookery writer Nigella Lawson.
Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson met Diamond while working for The Sunday Times

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said: "His many friends will recall not just his humour but the extraordinary courage he showed as he fought his illness."

Blair and his wife Cherie had known Diamond and his family for a number of years and they had spent time together at the prime minister's country residence, Chequers.

The editor of The Times, Peter Stothard, for whom Diamond wrote his column, said: "John Diamond brought all his skills as a journalist to report for The Times from the frontline of the cancer war.

"He shed unique light on a dark disease. That light will be John Diamond's greatest legacy."

In his column, Diamond described his ordeal under chemotherapy treatment only to discover a secondary cancer in his tongue.


Strangely, I don't much mind about losing the hair on my head for a while, but I'm annoyed that I'll be bald-chested

John Diamond on chemotherapy

His tongue was eventually removed in an operation that he likened to a "surgical mugging".

"He was still scribbling a last column and kindly, witty farewells as the morphine lulled him into a coma," Sunday Times journalist AA Gill wrote.

In a column written the weekend before he died, Diamond wrote with his customary humour about his latest encounter with chemotherapy

"Strangely, I don't much mind about losing the hair on my head for a while, but I'm annoyed that I'll be bald-chested."

Bravery

It was his wry humour and wisdom gained the hard way that endeared him to his readers.

"John connected, a rare thing in journalism," wrote Gill.

"His readers felt he was not talking at them, but to them, and that they knew him personally."

Gill said that Diamond's last laugh was that he had left nothing for other columnists to say about him that he had not already said in a far better way himself.

Nigel and Therese Lawson
Former chancellor Nigel Lawson and wife Therese attended the funeral
Alan Yentob, the BBC Director of Television, described Diamond as "exceptional."

"He was funny, warm and brilliant.

"He made a brave decision in allowing BBC cameras to follow him for a year after his initial diagnoses but it meant that the story of his battle with cancer could be shared with millions of viewers and hopefully be of help to some.

Diamond had helped raise awareness of cancer with his work.

Professor Gordon McVie, director general of The Cancer Research Campaign, said: "He was one of the most skilful communicators about cancer, and one of the funniest.

'Lovable man'

Diamond's acclaimed book, C: Because Cowards Get Cancer, was adapted for stage by journalist Victoria Coren.

Coren described the author as a "sparkling, lovable, huge hearted man and a quite brilliant journalist".

Diamond, who was born in Hackney, east London, to a biochemist father and an artist mother, trained to be a teacher.

He taught English and drama at a girls' school, but then transferred to journalism.

His family has requested no flowers and instead donations, to be sent to The Head and Neck Cancer Research Trust, c/o Hunters, 9 New Square, Lincoln's Inn, London WL2A 3QN.

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