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Former Cabinet Secretary And Head Civil Servant Sir Jeremy Heywood Has Died Aged 56

Heywood was one of the key figures at the heart of government for more than a decade.

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Jeremy John Heywood, permanent Secretary to the Cabinet in Downing Street.

Jeremy John Heywood, permanent Secretary to the Cabinet in Downing Street.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the former head of the civil service and cabinet secretary, has died from cancer aged 56, weeks after stepping down from public life due to poor health.

The news was announced on Sunday morning, as Theresa May praised Heywood’s “extraordinary talent”.

Lord Jeremy Heywood has passed away this morning. @theresa_may:

Heywood stood down as head of the civil service in October, a role he had held since 2014, citing ill health. Before that, he twice served as principal private secretary to the prime minister and as Downing Street’s chief of staff, making him a key figure in the heart of government, in a career spanning back to 1983.

Tributes were paid from politicians and civil servants who’d worked with Heywood over the years. Senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper said he had worked to “to hold government together at very difficult times”.

Such a kind, thoughtful public servant. Brilliant calm in the many storms. Sorely missed, from the day he stepped down. Love and prayers to his family.

So sad, thoughts are with Jeremy’s family & friends. He led the civil service with a wise head and dignity & has been an amazing example of a public servant.

Jeremy Heywood was an impressive and dedicated public servant. My thoughts are with his family, loved ones and colleagues at this sad time.

Jeremy Heywood represented the very best of the Civil Service. He served governments of all colours with dedication, and unmatched workrate and intelligence. A huge huge loss. Love to Suzanne and the children

Desperately sad news about Sir Jeremy Heywood. He was an amazing man, brilliant civil servant and dedicated to our country. It was a privilege to work with him. All our thoughts and love are with Suzanne and the children.

Heywood’s wife, Suzanne, said he died peacefully and described him as someone who loved his job and could find a way to bring opposing sides together.

Suzanne Heywood on the death of her husband Sir Jeremy. “He could light up any room or conversation” “For me, he was my wonderful partner for 22 years. We shared everything and I will miss him more than I can say”

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at

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