Former prime minister Sir Tony Blair, musician Sir Elton John and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were among the high-profile figures attending the funeral of TV presenter Kate Garraway’s husband, Derek Draper.
Garraway, 56, wearing a long black coat and pearl necklace and carrying a candle, left the Church of St Mary The Virgin in Primrose Hill, north-west London, with the couple’s children, Darcey and Billy, on Friday.
Former political lobbyist-turned-psychologist Draper married the Good Morning Britain (GMB) presenter at the same church in September 2005.
Their daughter, Darcey, acted as a pall bearer when the coffin, covered with purple and white flowers, made its way out of the church.
Draper fell seriously ill during the early part of the pandemic in March 2020 and spent 13 months in hospital before he was discharged.
He died on January 3 aged 56 after suffering long-lasting symptoms from coronavirus.
A key figure in the early years of New Labour in the 1990s, Draper was a former researcher for Lord Peter Mandelson.
Former Labour MPs such as Lord Mandelson and Ed Balls – who also now works as a GMB presenter – paid their respects and Sir Tony gave a speech during the eulogies.
Mourners also included shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband, Sir Tony’s wife Cherie Blair and former Number 10 director of communications Alastair Campbell.
Draper set up the Progress organisation with Liam Byrne, who went on to become a Labour MP, and was also an author.
He wrote the book Blair’s Hundred Days which chronicled some of Sir Tony’s first year as prime minister, along with Life Support: A Survival Guide For The Modern Soul.
Sir Elton, who attended the funeral with his husband David Furnish and had offered comfort to Garraway and Draper through his illness, held the order of service in his hands as he exited the church.
He also sang his ballad Skyline Pigeon – which contains the lyrics “fly away, skyline pigeon fly, towards the dreams, you’ve left so very far behind” – in tribute to Draper.
The hymns sung include Lord Of The Dance by Sydney Carter and psalm 23 The Lord’s My Shepherd.
A choir also performed songs in this order: Gospel Acclamation Alleluia, Alleluia!, Sanctus And Benedictus, Agnus Dei, God Be In My Head by Sir Henry Walford Davies and canticle Nunc Dimittis.
GMB stars Charlotte Hawkins, Ben Shephard, Richard Madeley, Alex Beresford, Rob Rinder, Susanna Reid, Sean Fletcher and Richard Arnold also attended the funeral.
Singer and TV presenter Myleene Klass, who has previously stepped in to host Garraway’s radio show, and actress Tina Hobley, who has been on Holby City and presented on Smooth Radio, were also among at the service.
Those at the church also included journalist Robert Peston, talent manager Jonathan Shalit, radio presenter Roman Kemp, former Sky News political editor Adam Boulton and former political editor of GMTV and ex-Labour MP, Gloria De Piero.
Sir Elton had previously invited Draper and Garraway to be guests of honour at his Farewell Yellow Brick Road concert at London’s O2 Arena last year.
Garraway told her Smooth Radio listeners in April 2023 that Sir Elton had been “so supportive” of her family since her husband fell ill.
TV presenter Fiona Phillips and This Morning editor Martin Frizell, who both worked on the former ITV morning programme GMTV, and former GMB star Piers Morgan, were also in attendance on Friday.
Garraway, a former GMTV presenter, often provided health updates about her husband on the ITV morning programme and fronted two documentaries on the channel about how the family’s life had changed following his illness.
When she won the authored documentary prize at the National Television Awards for ITV’s Caring For Derek, she brought Darcey along with her when she went to the ceremony in 2022.
Draper was admitted to hospital in December after suffering a heart attack.
Garraway announced her husband’s death on Instagram, with a post saying: “As some of you may know, he has been critically ill following a cardiac arrest in early December which, because of the damage inflicted by Covid in March 2020, led to further complications.”
Draper, a former director of lobbying firm GPC Market Access, was caught up in the lobbygate scandal in the 1990s and left politics.
He later founded and edited LabourList, a left-wing rival to online portals such as Conservative Home, but later stepped down from the site in 2009.