I WAS saddened to hear the news that BBC Radio 5 Live presenter and newsreader Rachael Bland has died.

She was just 40 years old, married, and had a three-year-old son. She had been diagnosed with stage four cancer in November 2016. Rachael had been writing a blog and contributing to a ground-breaking BBC podcast, You, Me and the Big C.

I first encountered Rachael on late night radio. In 2008/9 I was regularly travelling between London and York, keeping an eye on my father who was unwell. I needed the radio to help lull me into sleep. At the time, Richard Bacon was a presenter on BBC 5 Live and Rachael was the newsreader.

The partnership developed and a silly segment was introduced from 12.30am to 1am. Listeners took part and I became a regular contributor.

This programme carried me through difficult and distressing times and the listeners became known to one another through social networking.

Richard proved mercurial, but was kept in order by Rachael. Such was the ‘specialness’ of these 30 minutes of radio, that members of the community were invited to a recording of the programme at Richard’s home and also to the recording of the last ever broadcast by the team, at the BBC Theatre. All in the early hours. It was fun, surreal at times, and special.

Everyone’s lives have moved on and through Facebook, the community saw Rachael marry and have a child. Then cancer arrived.

I have no idea what this diverse group of people meant to Richard and Rachael. I thought that I must write to her to say thank you for her radio contribution. She wouldn’t have known what it had meant to me.

In the same way, in 2010, I wrote a thank you to a friend’s mother who had been wonderful to me, a rebellious teenager with an unhappy home life.

She replied, saying it was one of the nicest letters she had ever received and that she had no idea what she had meant to me.

Is there anyone to whom you would like to say thank you? Don’t leave it another week. Do it now… before it’s too late.

Rita Leaman is a psychotherapist and writes as Alison R Russell. wwwchasingbows.org.uk alisonrussell275.blogspot.co.uk