Sir Michael Palin has paid tribute to his wife of 57 years after she died following a battle with chronic pain and kidney failure.
The actor, 79, shared the news of Helen Gibbins’s death on his website. He described his childhood sweetheart as “the bedrock of my life”.
Sir Michael wrote: “My dearest wife Helen died peacefully in the early hours of Tuesday morning. She had been suffering with chronic pain for several years, which was compounded a few years ago by a diagnosis of kidney failure.
“We first met on a summer holiday on the Suffolk coast when we were both 16 and we married in our early 20s. Two and a half weeks ago we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary.
“Her death is an indescribable loss for myself, our three children and four grandchildren.
“Helen was the bedrock of my life. Her quietly wise judgement informed all my decisions and her humour and practical good sense was was at the heart of our life together.”
The couple have three children – Thomas, 54, William, 52, and Rachel, 48.
Last year, the Monty Python actor shared that Ms Gibbins had moved into respite care after she failed to respond to pain medication.
He told The Telegraph: “It’s such a bore. She was so active and still is mentally. But we’re both getting on a bit.
“The body is declining. She’s going to be 80 in October, I’m going to be 80 at the beginning of next year. We live life with our fingers crossed.”
Sir Michael has become known for his globetrotting BBC travel programmes, which have seen him visit locations including North Korea and the Himalayas.
He underwent surgery in September 2019 to fix a “leaky” heart valve, cancelling a UK-wide book tour to allow for three months of recovery.
He was knighted in 2019 for services to travel, culture and geography, marking his post-Python career in television and writing.
Sir Michael and his family have asked for privacy.