South Tyneside has bid an emotional farewell to one of its most proud and passionate daughters.
Tributes have poured in from home and away to agony aunt Denise Robertson, 83, who has lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.
Denise remained living in East Boldon despite her success on the London-based TV show This Morning, regularly making trips to and from the Capital to help comfort viewers.
In mid-February, Denise announced she was taking a break from the daytime show after a shock cancer diagnosis, but said she hoped to be back on the sofa soon.
SAFC were among those to pay tribute to the Black Cats supporter, who’d attended matches since she was a teenager.
A spokesman from the club said: “Everyone at SAFC is deeply saddened to hear that TV’s Denise Robertson has passed away. Denise was a passionate and dedicated Sunderland fan and had followed the lads since attending her first game as a teenager at Roker Park.
“She was ambassador for the club’s charity and a great supporter of the north east region as a whole. She will be greatly missed and the thoughts of everyone at the football club are with her friends and family at this time.”
Over the years, Denise became one of the region’s most high profile and energetic ambassadors, lending her support to countless regional charities including the Foundation of Light, Bubble Foundation, St Cuthbert’s Hospice, St Benedict’s Hospice, the PDSA and the Carers’ Centre.
The agony aunt had previously taken part in International White Ribbon Day, which raises awareness of domestic abuse in South Shields.
She also joined a march from South Shields Town Hall to the Market Place to support victims of violence alongside groups such as Options and Places for People Women’s Refuge back in 2008.
Sunderland-born Denise was also passionate about championing National Libraries Day in the borough. Among her campaigns, she joined a host of writers and readers celebrating a love of literature at Central Library, South Shields, in 2012.
As well as being a great support to people in need in her role as an agony aunt, Denise was the author of numerous books, plays, magazine and newspaper articles, using her great communications skills to share her ideas and feelings with others.
Some of the greatest honours awarded in recognition of her work include being given an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and being given Freedom of the City by Sunderland Council in 2006. In 1998, she was also named as Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham.
Sunderland councillor Harry Trueman said: “Denise was a familiar figure to us all with her heartfelt and honest advice. She always shared her ideas and feelings with others and, in doing so, she helped give hope and inspiration to thousands of people.
“In June 2006 she received the Freedom of the City because of her outstanding contributions to community life in Sunderland. She was a great ambassador for the city, an avid support of many charities, both regionally and nationally, and she never forgot her roots.”
Denise had joined ITV’s This Morning for its first ever broadcast in 1988, and the show has led tributes to one of their most familiar faces.
Presenter Phillip Schofield said: “I’m heartbroken at the passing of our This Morning icon Denise Robertson. Kind, thoughtful, caring and wonderful.”
Denise’s family, including husband Bryan and son Mark, have also paid their tribute.
In a statement released after her death, the family said: “It is with the deepest possible sorrow that we announce the passing of a very great lady. Our dearest Denise Robertson lost her short battle with cancer today at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. We send our gratitude to the many thousands of people who have sent message of love, support and prayers during these difficult weeks, these sustained and delighted her immeasurably.”