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Strictly’s Amy Dowden: MBE is on behalf of all those living with Crohn’s

Dancer Amy Dowden has been made an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours for her services to fundraising and raising awareness of inflammatory bowel disease (Matt Alexander Media Assignments/PA)
Dancer Amy Dowden has been made an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours for her services to fundraising and raising awareness of inflammatory bowel disease (Matt Alexander Media Assignments/PA)

Amy Dowden has accepted being made an MBE for her services to Crohn’s disease “on behalf” of all those who live with the inflammatory bowel disease.

Her sunny personality, lilting Welsh accent and sparkling dance moves won her legions of fans as a professional on Strictly Come Dancing, but it has been her health struggles that have endeared her even further to the general public.

As an advocate and ambassador for charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK, she has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the King’s Birthday Honours for her services to fundraising and raising awareness of the disease.

The 33-year-old from Caerphilly told the PA news agency: “I am still in shock, but so thrilled to be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, it is beyond my wildest dreams.

Dare To Dance
Amy Dowden has been made an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours (Doug Peters/PA)

“I accept it on behalf of all those who live with Crohn’s disease, and will continue campaigning to raise awareness for and research into this terrible chronic illness.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful NHS staff who have helped me over the years and Crohn’s & Colitis UK who do so much to support fellow sufferers.”

The dancer has also had a high-profile battle with breast cancer and has undergone a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

She first found a lump in her breast the day before going to the Maldives on her honeymoon with fellow professional dancer Ben Jones and was subsequently diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

She recently finished chemotherapy and tests show she has “no evidence of disease”.

Earlier this week it was announced that she will rejoin the cast of professional dancers on Strictly for the 2024 series after missing out last year while she had treatment and also suffered a broken foot.

In 2019, Dowden revealed she was suffering from Crohn’s disease, and fronted the BBC programme Strictly Amy: Crohn’s And Me, in which she spoke about her battle with the condition and met other people with Crohn’s to hear about their experiences.

In January 2022 she was admitted to hospital in Manchester following a Crohn’s flare-up while on the Strictly live tour.

She had previously suffered a flare-up in November 2021, shortly after the filming of Strictly Come Dancing, when she briefly moved in with her celebrity partner, McFly star Tom Fletcher, and his wife Giovanna, while her husband was away.

Crohn’s is described by the NHS as a lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Amy Dowden was paired with McFly star Tom Fletcher in the 2021 series of Strictly (Guy Levy/BBC)

People with the disease commonly experience phases of intense abdominal pain, severe vomiting, exhaustion and bloody diarrhoea, among other symptoms.

Dowden has previously said she was diagnosed with the condition when she was a child, but did not reveal she had it when she joined Strictly, because she “didn’t want to be known as ‘Amy with Crohn’s’”.

A former British national Latin dance champion, Dowden joined Strictly in 2017, and in 2019 she was a finalist with TV presenter Karim Zeroual.

Her other celebrity partners have included entertainer Brian Conley, Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules, TV presenter JJ Chalmers and EastEnders actor James Bye.

Earlier this year she announced she will publish a book in September called Dancing In The Rain, aimed at offering “solace and inspiration”.