Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas has paid a moving tribute to her brother 18 years after he took his life.
Taking to Instagram on Sunday, the 61-year-old shared a number of pictures of her brother David, some displayed around her house, as she marked the day that he died.
‘A sad day of reflection, a day of mourning the loss of a loved one from 18 years ago today,’ her heartbreaking post began. ‘Waking up on the 5th of December all those years ago I can still feel the shock of the news run through my body, a cold and chilling feeling of disbelief.
‘Darling David I miss you very very much, you were my anchor my guider my brother, my go to when things got tough and as for those bear hugs I can only dream about them now. There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about you and all the times I got to spend with you. Family to you was everything. A fierce and protective brother, son and father.
‘My mind has been all over the place this week remembering all those good and bad times and of course what could have been. A life lost that in my opinion could have been saved if we had of [sic] been more educated and understood more about communicating feelings of how we felt.’
The Strictly head judge then added, heartbreakingly: ‘Forgive me for being so uneducated. Mental Health is key, kindness and understanding is so important in today’s society. I’ll keep you in a little pocket very close to my heart, so I can feel close to you always.’
Dancer Shirley went on to acknowledge David’s daughter and his nephew Mark, her own son, as she admitted: ‘Life is also very difficult for those left behind but rest assured wherever you are you are so loved. Our mother talks about you daily and I’m glad she can now express her feelings, this is very important. She misses her boy with all of her being.’
She finished off her post: ‘We miss you with ever [sic] single breath we take, keep resting in peace my dear beloved brother till we meet again. It breaks my heart to write this, but I know you are always watching over us wherever you are. You are so loved David.’
Strictly stars shared their love and support for Shirley on the difficult day in the comments, with professional dancer Johannes Radebe writing: ‘Sending love’, with a yellow heart emoji.
His celebrity partner, GBBO’s John Whaite, commented: ‘So much love to you and your family.’
Show presenter Claudia Winkleman also left her love on the post, a did former Strictly pro James Jordan.
In an interview with CALM, shared exclusively with Metro.co.uk earlier this year, Shirley spoke about how she learned to be open about David’s past struggles.
She explained: ‘When my brother passed away he had a lot of challenges with his mental wellbeing and Strictly has given me a platform where I can talk about it a lot more.
‘I feel like this is in memory of my brother and I’m excited to get people to engage and talk about how they’re feeling, but also to learn tools that can help people.’
Shirley added: ‘There’s more to me than the glitz and glamour that you see on Strictly Come Dancing. We all bear the same issues.
Strictly Come Dancing returns tonight at 7:20pm on BBC One.
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