Kate sent 'devastated' Zoe the tribute live on air

Following the devastating death of her boyfriend, Billy Yates, Zoe Ball has been flooded with messages from friends and fans sending their love at this terrible time.

And as the radio DJ had to pull out from her presenting gig this weekend to grieve her sudden loss, TV personality Kate Thornton stepped in to take her place and sent out a heartfelt tribute live on air.

Forty-four-year-old Kate took to the Radio 2 airwaves at 3pm on Saturday, starting the show by letting Zoe know that the whole station is behind her.

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‘Sadly our lovely Zoe Ball can’t be here today,’ she began.

‘Before we get started can I just say from everyone on the show and here at Radio 2 our thoughts are with Billy, his family and friends and of course with you Zoe.

Before adding: ‘We are sending you the biggest of hugs.’

The heartbreaking news of Billy’s death broke on Friday after the 40-year-old Antiques Roadshow cameraman was found dead at his South London home by a pal on Thursday night in a suspected suicide.

It is believed that Billy suffered mental health issues in the run-up to his death and close friend, Sophie Phelps has recently spoken out about her pal ‘battling his demons’ in a heartwarming Instagram tribute.

More: ‘Devastated’ Zoe Ball cancels live hosting duties at last minute in wake of boyfriend Billy Yates’ shock death

Sophie wrote: ‘My thoughts are with you, Zoe. Billy loved you so much and would tell me how much he adored you.

‘I’m devastated. I hope he’s finally at peace and his head is at rest.’ 

She added that she ‘lost an amazing friend to a seriously cruel and unfair illness’ before finally saying: ‘I hope you sleep well Billy, without the nightmares now.’

Although Zoe has not yet spoken publicly about Billy’s death, on Friday morning the Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two host posted a picture of a single pink flower on Instagram with the simple caption: ‘My sweet love.’

My sweet love X

A post shared by Zoe Ball (@zeebeezoobee) on

A spokesman for the 46-year-old told the Press Association that Zoe was ‘devastated’, with a friend telling The Sun: ‘Zoe is overcome with grief. She is completely and utterly devastated.’

The pal added that Zoe was in ‘total shock’ and will ‘need a lot of time to grieve’ as she’d ‘finally found happiness’ with Billy.

More: Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two’s Zoe Ball ‘utterly devastated’ as her boyfriend is found dead at home

Metropolitan Police confirmed the death in a statement last week: ‘Police were called to a residential address in Putney, South London, at 18.40 on Thursday 4th May to reports of a man found deceased.

‘Officers attended alongside staff from the London Ambulance Service, and a man believed to be aged 40 was pronounced dead at the scene.

‘The circumstances are not being treated as suspicious, and the coroner has been informed.’