Campaigner and agony aunt Claire Rayner dies aged 79

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The agony aunt, safe sex campaigner and gay rights ally Claire Rayner has died at the age of 79.

The mother of three, who wrote more than 60 books and was awarded an OBE, passed away at her home in Harrow, north London.

She had not recovered from emergency intestinal surgery carried out in May.

According to reports, she told her family at the weekend that she expected to die soon. Her last words were: “Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him.”

Her husband of 53 years, Des said in a statement: “I have lost my best friend and my soulmate. I am immensely proud of her.

“Through her work she helped hundreds of thousands of people and doubtless, by talking frankly about the importance of safe sex in the 80s when almost nobody else would discuss it, helped to save thousands of lives.

“Right up until her death she was being consulted by both politicians and the medical profession about the best way to provide the health services the nation deserved and nothing mattered to her more than that. Her death leaves a vacancy which will not be filled.”

Rayner began her career as a nurse and midwife and began writing in 1960. She became known as a commentator and campaigner and was president of the Patients’ Association.

She was also an ally of the gay rights and humanist movements, attending meetings of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and becoming a vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association.

Today, the Pink Triangle Trust paid tribute to her as an “agony aunt to many, friend to many more” and said tributes to her would be “well-deserved”.