Fiona Phillips, 63, makes a rare appearance following her Alzheimer’s diagnosis as she supports Kate Garraway at the funeral of her husband Derek Draper

Fiona Phillips made a rare public appearance following her Alzheimer’s diagnosis as she supported her GMTV colleague Kate Garraway at the funeral of her husband Derek Draper.

The former breakfast TV presenter, 63, announced her diagnosis in July, and was accompanied by her husband, This Morning editor Martin Frizell. 

Family and friends gathered at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Primrose Hill for a service of remembrance in honour of Kate’s late husband Derek, following his death aged 56.

Derek was among the first in the UK to fall seriously ill with Covid-19 and was admitted to an intensive care unit as the country entered lockdown in March 2020.

Fiona was told she had Alzheimer’s in 2022, but only publicly shared her diagnosis last year, and is already struggling with lapses in her memory.

Fiona Phillips made a rare public appearance following her Alzheimer’s diagnosis as she supported her GMTV colleague Kate Garraway at the funeral of her husband Derek Draper

She has since revealed he was put on a drugs trial in an attempt to slow down the symptoms, something which she says appears to be working for her.

In an interview with Women&Home magazine, Fiona said: ‘I’m on a clinical trial and the signs are positive. 

‘I’m taking part in a revolutionary drug trial that’s trying to find a cure. It involves a brand-new drug and a placebo, and I have no idea which one I’m on.

‘When I went for my six-month check-up in October, they did cognitive tests to see where my brain was at, which showed that I was in the same place as I was the previous year.

‘I’m hopeful that the drug is holding the disease where it is. I’d rather not have to be on the trial but I’m very grateful I am. 

‘There are risks, including bleeding on the brain, so I’m a guinea pig, but there’s a real chance it could help.’

Fiona, who has two sons with Mark, stunned her millions of fans when she revealed that like both of her parents, she had Alzheimer’s. 

Yet the star says she is ‘pretending’ that she doesn’t have the illness so she can carry on enjoying her life.

The former breakfast TV presenter announced her diagnosis in July, and was accompanied by her husband, This Morning editor Martin Frizell

The former breakfast TV presenter announced her diagnosis in July, and was accompanied by her husband, This Morning editor Martin Frizell

Fiona was told she had Alzheimer's in 2022, but only publicly shared her diagnosis last year , and is already struggling with lapses in her memory

Fiona was told she had Alzheimer’s in 2022, but only publicly shared her diagnosis last year , and is already struggling with lapses in her memory

Fiona is a longtime friend of Kate, with the pair working together on GMTV as hosts (pictured together in 2003)

Fiona is a longtime friend of Kate, with the pair working together on GMTV as hosts (pictured together in 2003)

She still meets friends for coffee and goes for walks, though admitted that Mark- her husband of 26 years – worries about her when he’s working.

‘I know I can still have a great life. I’m just getting on with things. I’m pretending it hasn’t happened and not giving it any space in my life at the moment. Or as little as I can. I’ve still got so much I want to do.

‘I know Martin worries about what I’m doing when he’s at work or has to go out in the evening, and whether I’m eating. But this isn’t me now. I’m not about to give up. I’ve still got so much to look forward to.’

Fiona, who left GMTV in December 2008 for family reasons, said that since her diagnosis she speaks her mind more and has become more ‘honest’ with people.

She added that nobody has reacted badly to her more candid comments.

‘Martin says I have no filter now, and it’s true,’ said Fiona. 

‘I come out with some funny things. I’ve become more honest with people, which I don’t see as a negative thing. 

‘No one has reacted badly, and most of the time I’m complimenting people and saying things I would have thought but not blurted out. 

‘I think Martin gets a bit exasperated at times but all my friends are used to it now. My diagnosis is definitely not all doom and gloom. There is still a lot of light in the darkness, and you’ve always got to look for that.’

Derek was among the first in the UK to fall seriously ill with Covid-19 and was admitted to an intensive care unit as the country entered lockdown in March 2020.

He was one of the country’s longest-suffering Covid patients after being in hospital but never fully recovered after the virus left long-lasting damage to his organs and meant he needed round-the-clock care. 

Derek suffered a heart attack before Christmas and never recovered. 

Kate revealed her husband died as she held his hand 'throughout the last long hours and when he passed' on January 5

Kate revealed her husband died as she held his hand ‘throughout the last long hours and when he passed’ on January 5 

Kate revealed her husband died as she held his hand ‘throughout the last long hours and when he passed’ on January 5.

The Good Morning Britain star, 56, announced the death of her husband of 18 years on Instagram and said: ‘Rest gently and peacefully now Derek, my love, I was so lucky to have you in my life.’

Derek suffered a heart attack before Christmas following a long battle with Covid.

Kate, who had two children with Derek, Darcey, 17, and their youngest, Billy, 11, said: ‘I’m sad to have to tell you all that my darling husband Derek has passed away.

‘Derek was surrounded by his family in his final days and I was by his side holding his hand throughout the last long hours and when he passed. 

‘I have so much more to say, and of course I will do so in due course, but for now I just want to thank all the medical teams who fought so hard to save him and to make his final moments as comfortable and dignified as possible’.

She added: ‘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.

‘Sending so much love and thanks to all of you who have so generously given our family so much support. Rest gently and peacefully now Derek, my love, I was so lucky to have you in my life.’

Derek was a former researcher for Blairite Peter Mandelson who became a New Labour spin doctor and later retrained as a psychotherapist after a series of political and lobbying scandals.

After he was embroiled in the so-called ‘cash-for-access’ scandal, dubbed ‘lobbygate’, he travelled to the United States, where he retrained as a psychotherapist.

In 2005, he married Kate, the GMTV co-presenter who is now part of the Good Morning Britain team on ITV and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in November 2019. 

Derek had been plagued with health woes after contracting Covid in 2020 and suffered a cardiac arrest in early December, with Kate spending Christmas at hospital. 

Derek’s medical case attracted much media attention, partly because of his marriage to Kate, and partly because of the length of his hospital stay.

Some media reported that he had become the nation’s longest-suffering patient after spending 13 months in hospital.

In early July 2022, Kate disclosed that Derek had been readmitted to hospital and later that month dropped out of presenting Good Morning Britain as his condition worsened.

The following February, the ITV series Kate Garraway: Caring for Derek aired on ITV, and documented Draper’s arrival home from the hospital while also following Garraway as she navigated the ‘myriad challenges of the social care system and its complexities’.

Derek was photographed by his wife’s side in June, despite being in and out of hospital, when she collected her MBE from the Prince of Wales in an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.

In December, The Sun reported that Derek had ‘suffered a massive heart attack’ and said Kate was keeping a 24/7 vigil by his bedside.

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