Leah Bracknell dead aged 55 – Ex-Emmerdale star dies after three-year cancer battle.

FORMER Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has died aged 55.

The 90s soap favourite was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2016 but defied the odds to battle the disease for three years.

 Emmerdale's Leah Bracknell has died aged 55

Emmerdale's Leah Bracknell has died aged 55

 Leah Bracknell posted her last selfie on Instagram in July

Leah Bracknell posted her last selfie on Instagram in July

 Leah Bracknell shared her hospital journey on Instagram

Leah Bracknell shared her hospital journey on InstagramCredit: Instagram

The actress passed away last month but news of her death was only revealed today.

Her management released a statement saying: "It is with the deepest sadness that Leah Bracknell's family confirm that Leah passed away in September, three years after her diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer.

 The official Emmerdale Twitter account paid tribute to Leah this evening

The official Emmerdale Twitter account paid tribute to Leah this eveningCredit: Twitter

 In the weeks before her death, Leah Bracknell posted this picture of herself working on Emmerdale in 1990

In the weeks before her death, Leah Bracknell posted this picture of herself working on Emmerdale in 1990Credit: Instagram

 Leah Bracknell pictured with her husband Jez Hughes

Leah Bracknell pictured with her husband Jez HughesCredit: Facebook

Leah had an energy and enthusiasm for life, a kind heart and much love to give to those around her

"They would like to thank all the public for their support and generosity which contributed to the extension and quality of her life over the past three years.

"Leah was best known and much loved as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale.

"She also had roles in Judge John Deed, A Touch of Frost, The Royal Today and DCI Banks to name just a few, as well as numerous appearances on stage and in pantomime.

"As well as acting, Leah was also an accomplished yoga teacher and shamanic healer.

"Leah had an energy and enthusiasm for life, a kind heart and much love to give to those around her.

"Her family have asked for privacy at this very sad time."

Leah Bracknell was best known for her role as Zoe Tate on Emmerdale, a character she played for almost 16 years between 1989 and 2005.

The married mum-of-two made history by becoming the first lesbian character in the soap.

 Zoe Tate became the first lesbian character in the history of Emmerdale

Zoe Tate became the first lesbian character in the history of Emmerdale

 Leah Bracknell first appeared on the TV show in 1989

Leah Bracknell first appeared on the TV show in 1989Credit: Rex Features

 Leah Bracknell inspired fans and cancer sufferers during her cancer battle

Leah Bracknell inspired fans and cancer sufferers during her cancer battleCredit: Instagram

'GENEROUS AND CARING'

The official Emmerdale Twitter account paid tribute to the actress this evening, writing: "Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell.

"She was a hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast for over 16 years.

"Leah was a very generous and caring colleague, much loved by cast and crew alike."

When she left the show, the episode was voted the Best Exit at the British Soap Awards in May 2006.

In October 2016, Bracknell revealed she had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the age of 52.

She had sought medical help the month before after rapidly gaining weight around her abdomen and suffering constant breathlessness.

After she was diagnosed, fans helped her raise more than £50,000 on a GoFundMe page launched by her husband, Jez Hughes, to undergo groundbreaking treatment in Germany.

 Sh was born Alison Rosalind Bracknell on July 12, 1964

Sh was born Alison Rosalind Bracknell on July 12, 1964Credit: PA:Press Association

 Leah Bracknell was best known for playing vet Zoe Tate in ITV soap Emmerdale (pictured with co-star John Middleton)

Leah Bracknell was best known for playing vet Zoe Tate in ITV soap Emmerdale (pictured with co-star John Middleton)Credit: Rex Features

 Through her character the show tackled difficult subjects including homophobia

Through her character the show tackled difficult subjects including homophobiaCredit: Rex Features

'HUGELY POPULAR'

She started taking new medication, but later revealed that it had failed.

Bracknell appeared in public numerous times over the past three years, discussing living with cancer.

She spoke openly about her numerous methods to ease her symptoms, and wrote about her experiences on her blog, Something Beginning With C.

ITV has paid tribute to Bracknell, calling her a "hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast".

John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, said in a statement: "Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell.

"Leah was a hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast for over 16 years.

"During that time she featured in some of the show's most high-profile and explosive plots and always delivered a pitch perfect performance.

"Zoe Tate was one of soap's first lesbian characters and Leah made sure the character was both exciting and credible."

 The 54-year-old was told three years ago that she had stage four lung cancer, which has a life-expectancy of eight months

The 54-year-old was told three years ago that she had stage four lung cancer, which has a life-expectancy of eight monthsCredit: Rex Features

 Leah Bracknell became one of the Yorkshire soap's most recognised stars

Leah Bracknell became one of the Yorkshire soap's most recognised starsCredit: Facebook

 After she was diagnosed, fans helped her raise more than £50,000 to undergo groundbreaking treatment in Germany.

After she was diagnosed, fans helped her raise more than £50,000 to undergo groundbreaking treatment in Germany.Credit: Twitter

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