Tributes paid to Letchworth mental health nurse who inspired Pulp song after recognition in New Year’s Honours List

Deborah, who died on Tuesday after battling cancer, is said to be the muse of her good friend Jarvis

Deborah, who died on Tuesday after battling cancer, is said to be the muse of her good friend Jarvis Cocker. - Credit: Archant

A husband has spoken of his pride after his wife – who passed away yesterday morning – was awarded an MBE for her pioneering work in mental health.

Deborah Bone was awarded an MBE in recognition of her services to children and young people.

Deborah Bone was awarded an MBE in recognition of her services to children and young people. - Credit: Archant

Nurse Deborah Bone from Letchworth – who was also the inspiration behind one of the biggest hits of the ‘90s – was included in the New Year’s Honours List, released just after hours after her death.

The 51-year-old, who set up the Step2 health service for the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust in Stevenage, had been battling multiple myeloma – a type of bone marrow cancer.

Her husband Colin, who moved to the family home in the village of Hinxworth three years ago, said: “Learning Deborah had been awarded an MBE was a very emotional experience. Her first thoughts characteristically were for the other people who helped to make her achievements possible.

“I shall be so proud to attend the MBE award ceremony on her behalf accompanied by her daughter Pollyanna who is following in her mother’s footsteps working for the NHS and already achieving national recognition.”

Deborah was born in Sheffield, and is the inspiration behind her friend Jarvis Cocker’s hit Disco 2000 released by British band Pulp.

The pair’s mothers are close friends and lead singer Jarvis sang the song – which includes the lines “Well we were born within one hour of each other. Our mothers said we could be sister and brother. Your name is Deborah. Deborah. It never suited ya” – at her 50th birthday party last year. Deborah moved to Letchworth at the age of 10 and began volunteering at Fairfield Hospital in Stotfold at the age of 16.

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Since then she has worked tirelessly to improve mental health services.

Deborah developed the Brainbox, a visual resource to help young people cope with high stress and anxiety, and was also the co-creator of the award-winning Bright Stars programme which is used in primary schools across Hertfordshire.

Her MBE was awarded for services to children and young people in recognition of such feats.

Colin added: “What made Deborah different from others is once she identified the problem she set about finding answers. With characteristic determination and drive, she went on to create the solution.”

Deborah won various awards in her lifetime for her commitment to mental health work. In 2007 she was named Role Model of the Year at the Comet Community Awards and also received the MacQueen Award for Excellence in Practice. The award enabled her to write her book The Sticking Plasters for Children’s Souls – Stories to Improve Emotional and Mental Well-Being, illustrated by local children with self-esteem problems.

David Law, chief executive of the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Deborah’s death. I feel very fortunate to have known and worked with her.

“She was an inspirational leader and a strong advocate for mental health services for children and young people.

“The Step2 service – which provides early specialist support for young people – exists because of Deborah’s commitment, energy and vision.

“I know the team feel her presence still and I know they will be distraught at her passing.

“Her legacy will live on in the service she developed and in the memories of the many people she inspired during her career. She was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed.”

Deborah is survived by husband Colin, daughters Jemima and Pollyanna, grandson Elliot and a soon to be born granddaughter Lucy.

Deborah kept a blog documenting her journey after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which can viewed at