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Damian Lewis pays heartfelt tribute to his wife Helen McCrory after she passed away aged 52

Damian Lewis has penned a heartfelt tribute to his late wife Helen McCrory after she died of cancer aged just 52.

The actor, 50, confirmed Helen had passed away following a 'heroic' battle with the disease in a statement on Friday. 

Writing in The Sunday Times, Damian said his wife had shown 'no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity' during her illness. 

Emotional: Damian Lewis has penned a heartfelt tribute to his late wife Helen McCrory after she died of cancer aged just 52 (pictured together in 2020)

He wrote: 'Already I miss her. She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine.

'In life, too, we had to rise to meet her. But her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to 'normalise' her death.

'She's shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy. I'm staggered by her. She's been a meteor in our life.'

Damian wrote that he had never known anyone who had been able to enjoy life as much as Helen, who had kept her cancer diagnosis private. 

Heartbreaking: The actor, 50, confirmed Helen had passed away following a 'heroic' battle with the disease in a statement on Friday (pictured in 2013)

The actor added that the Peaky Blinders star did not believe in self-reflection or 'navel-gazing' and so was able to 'turn her light so brightly on others'.  

Damian also wrote of his sadness that Helen's passing meant she had left their children, daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, 'too early'.

He said the actress had told her children to not be sad shortly before her death because she had lived the life she wanted to. 

Damian wrote that only a few weeks ago Helen joked to him and their children from her bed that she wanted 'Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them' but said he should try get through the funeral without snogging someone.  

Damian stood by the actress' side as she secretly battled the disease, with Helen brushing off her hoarse voice in her final TV appearance last month to selflessly talk about their charity work. 

He wrote: 'Already I miss her. She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine' (pictured in 2012)

The couple's devotion to one another shone brightly for all to see, with Damian saying the actress died peacefully at home surrounded by 'peace and love' and their children.

Helen first met Damian in 2003, when they were both cast in the play Five Gold Rings at the off-West End Almeida Theatre. 

And the Peaky Blinders star said it was Damian's sense of humour which first attracted her. 'He just made me laugh a lot. And still does,' she told the Radio Times.

'Of course, everyone in life wants someone to love and be loved by, but I think I was always just engrossed and involved in work. And no, the timing was pure fluke, pure chance, it always is, isn't it?' 

Marriage: The couple's devotion to one another shone brightly for all to see, with Damian saying the actress died at home surrounded by 'peace and love' (pictured 2019)

Soulmate: Damian, 50, stood by the actress' side as she secretly battled cancer, with Helen brushing off her hoarse voice in her final TV appearance last month

 Tragic: In his statement, Damian said: 'I'm heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died at home'

After three years of dating, the couple became engaged in 2006 and Helen said she had to compromise with Damian on the rings. 

She told the Daily Mail: 'When Damian and I got engaged, I wanted a ring made of tin.

'I love travelling and one thing I've learnt is that if you travel with a diamond on your hand, you might attract the wrong sort of attention. Damian put his foot down so it's titanium. These are our wedding rings, which are platinum.' 

Helen's stellar career continued to go from strength-to-strength and she was cast to play Bellatrix Lestrange for the 2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but had to drop out because she fell pregnant with Manon. 

Happy times: Helen had been married to fellow actor Damian since 2007 and shared two children with him - daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, (pictured in February last year) 

She would later go on to star in the Harry Potter franchise as Narcissa Malfoy.  

The couple welcomed their daughter in 2006 and in July 2007 married in front of family and friends at Kensington and Chelsea Registry Office. 

Helen was pregnant with her Gulliver at the time and told Daily Mail: 'I wore a cornflower-blue Roberto Cavalli dress – white's pushing it a bit when you've got a baby in one hand and another in your tum!'

The actress showed her fierce sense of humour as she joked: 'I did have a honeymoon. It lasted an evening. It was very short, but very lovely.

Magic: Helen was cast to play Bellatrix Lestrange for the  Harry Potter franchise in 2006 but had to drop out because she was pregnant with Manon.  She would later return as Narcissa Malfoy

'We got married in the Kensington and Chelsea registry office, then walked down the King's Road and had lunch in a nice restaurant around the corner with 11 people. A very romantic day.' 

They later announced the birth of their second child. 

Also in 2007, the couple moved to Los Angeles as Damian starred as the main character Charlie Crews in the American television series Life on NBC.  

After two years in Los Angeles, Helen and Damian moved back to the U.K and settled in their Victorian house in north London and would later go on to buy their second home in Suffolk. 

The actress previously credited her parents for showing her a 'great marriage' and that it 'takes work'. 

While both were regarded among the best talent in the acting industry, the couple made a pact when they became parents that they wouldn't accept roles at the same time, so one of them could be at home with their children. 

In an interview with Woman and Home in 2017, Helen talked about how her career took a backseat, particularly when their children were very young. 

She said: 'I lightened my workload when the children were younger, but I'm building it up again now. I often played the lead until I became a mother. Then I played smaller roles to keep my foot in the water.' 

Sweet: As their children became older, Helen spoke about how Damian sacrificed working a lucrative job in America to encourage her to take on ITV drama series Fearless in 2016

But as their children became older, Helen spoke about how Damian sacrificed working a lucrative job in America to encourage her to take on ITV drama series Fearless in 2016. 

She said at the time: 'He is so supportive. Much more so than I am. He was the one that persuaded me to do Fearless.

'He told me: 'You have to do Fearless. You have to'. I pointed out that he was going to be in America filming Billions and in 10 years I've always had the children when he goes away filming. But he replied: 'Well, I'll do it. Of course, I can'.' 

They did, however, both star alongside one another in the 2015 film The Bill in which Helen played Queen Elizabeth I, while Damian took up the role as Sir Richard Hawkins. 

Don't mess with a Peaky Blinder! From 2013, Helen took up her critically-acclaimed role as Polly Gray in BBC period crime drama Peaky Blinder (pictured 2016)

From 2013, Helen took up her critically-acclaimed role as Polly Gray in BBC period crime drama Peaky Blinders. 

Before series five, the actress said she had considered not returning to her role. 

She told The Express at the time: 'I had a wonderful offer of another thing by one of the people I think is the most talented people and I said no and came back to this because I feel it's given me so much.

'You see it through to the end if somebody wants to, you don't just go 'thank you.'

'And also I want to see it through to the end.'

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in September 2012

During the Covid pandemic, Helen and Damian supported Feed NHS, a programme to give food from high street restaurants to NHS staff, and had raised £1 million for the charity by early April of that year. 

And the actress remained dedicated to her charity work, despite her declining health. 

The couple were last seen during an appearance on Good Morning Britain last month, where they appeared to speak about their charity work for the Prince's Trust and the Prince's Trust Awards.

And the actress remained dedicated to her charity work, despite her declining health. The couple were last seen during an appearance on Good Morning Britain last month

During the interview, Kate Garraway asked Helen: 'Are you alright, Helen? You sound a bit croaky. Have you got a sore throat?' Helen joked: 'I've got children!'

During the interview, Kate Garraway asked Helen: 'Are you alright, Helen? You sound a bit croaky. Have you got a sore throat?'

But Helen brushed off the Kate's concern as she joked: 'I've got children!'

Just six weeks later however, Damian announced Helen tragically passed away after secretly battling cancer.  

The actor wrote: 'I'm heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.

'She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.'

Heartfelt tribute: Damian wrote: 'She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you' 

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