Emmerdale’s Lisa Riley leads tributse to Leah Bracknell as she dies aged 55 calling her a ‘true angel’.

EMMERDALE stars have led tributes to Zoe Tate actress Leah Bracknell, who it emerged yesterday has died from cancer aged 55.

Lisa Riley, who plays Mandy Dingle in the long-running ITV drama, described her as a "true angel to work with".

 Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has died aged 55

Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell has died aged 55

She wrote: "GOD BLESS YOU LEAH. A true angel to work with. You lost your battle far far too young. R.I.P. heavens gain an angel of the truest form."

Dominic Brunt, who plays Paddy Kirk, added: "I lost a good friend today. She was truly amazing in lots of different ways and I shall miss her."

Claire King, who played Kim Tate on the show, wrote: "Gorgeous, beautiful, talented, lovely Leah, fly high over that rainbow my love."

Meanwhile, Marlon Dingle star Mark Charnock wrote: "Terrible news today. We’ve lost one of the truly good humans. Being around Leah always made the day better."

 Tributes poured in for Leah, seen here on This Morning in 2017

Tributes poured in for Leah, seen here on This Morning in 2017Credit: Rex Features

 The actress pictured with her husband Jez Hughes

The actress pictured with her husband Jez HughesCredit: Facebook

The soap released a statement, saying: "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 the cast and crew alike."

Stars from other soaps also made tributes, with Coronation Street's Sally Dynevor saying: "So sorry to hear Leah Bracknell passed away. Such a beautiful person and an inspiration to many."

Sally Ann Matthews, who was Sandra Biggs until 2006 before joining Corrie as Jenny Bradley, added: "So sorry to hear that the beautiful soul, Leah Bracknell, has lost her battle with cancer. The world has lost a little sparkle x."

 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 was best known for playing vet Zoe Tate in ITV soap Emmerdale

Leah Bracknell was best known for playing vet Zoe Tate in ITV soap EmmerdaleCredit: Rex Features

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

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

Leah was best known for her role as Zoe Tate on the Emmerdale, who she played for almost 16 years.

During her time on the programme, between 1989 and 2005 she made history by becoming the first lesbian character in the soap.

 The 54-year-old was told three years ago that she had stage four lung cancer

The 54-year-old was told three years ago that she had stage four lung cancerCredit: Rex Features

When she left the show, the star's final 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 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.

 Leah played the first lesbian character in a soap

Leah played the first lesbian character in a soapCredit: ITV/REX

 Through her character the show tackled difficult subjects including homophobia

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

 Leah Bracknell shared her hospital journey on Instagram

Leah Bracknell shared her hospital journey on InstagramCredit: Instagram

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'.

A statement from Bracknell's manager said: "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.

 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 GermanyCredit: Twitter

"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 continued to embrace life and faced her illness with positivity. Many aspects of her journey can be found on her blog. 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."

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