BBC newsreader George Alagiah's heartbreaking final wish before his death

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George Alagiah hoped that he’d be able to return to work at the BBC ‘one last time’ before his death at the age of 67, Sophie Raworth has revealed.

On Monday July 24, it was announced that the veteran newsreader had died after being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer, which spread to his liver and lymph nodes.

The journalist had been the face of BBC One’s News At Six since 2007, with his agent saying in a statement: ‘George was deeply loved by everybody who knew him, whether it was a friend, a colleague or a member of the public. He simply was a wonderful human being. My thoughts are with Fran, the boys and his wider family.’

On last night’s edition of the programme, Raworth paid tribute to her late colleague, revealing that she saw him ‘just a few weeks ago’.

‘He told me he had hoped to come back to work one last time to say thank you and goodbye, right here, live on air in the studio,’ she said.

‘He didn’t get the chance, so we have done it for him. I will leave you now with George Alagiah in his own words.’

The show then featured a segment of Alagiah opening up about his life, explaining that his life is ‘divided into pre-cancer and post-cancer’.

‘The weird thing about a bowel cancer journey is you don’t really know the beginning and you don’t really know the end,’ he said.

‘So I know the day I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but I don’t know when it started, because I was at the top of my game – I was having a fantastic time at work, at home.’

He continued, explaining that it took him a while to process his diagnosis, prompting him to reflect on his life and his family, including meeting his wife, Frances Robathan, and welcoming their two children.

‘I have got to a place to see life as a gift, and rather than worrying about when it’s going to end and how it’s going to end, I’ve got to a place where I can see it for the gift it is. I feel that gift keenly every morning.’

During last night’s BBC News At Six, Raworth reminisced on launching Six O’Clock News with Alagiah 20 years ago, all the way back in January 2003.

‘He was a foreign correspondent at heart, that was his passion, but he felt enormously proud and privileged to be presenting the BBC’s evening news and he loved it,’ she told the programme’s viewers.

‘He loved being in the newsroom being part of the team, and he made a good cup of tea as well. We all adored him, he felt a real connection with the audience too.’

Raworth outlined that when Alagiah first announced his diagnosis nine years ago in 2014, ‘he received thousands of letters and messages from people who wrote to him as if they knew each other, strangers who spoke to him as a friend’.

‘He was really touched by your support,’ she added.

‘George was a man of great values and indomitable spirit, a big smile, a velvety laugh, a great friend.’

Macmillan cancer support

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with cancer, Macmillan can offer support and information.

You can contact their helpline on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week from 8am to 8pm), use their webchat service, or visit their site for more information.

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