Simon Cowell has been left devastated after mum Julie died aged 89. I'll never forget meeting Julie who was strong, opinionated and dedicated to her family - just like Simon...

Simon Cowell has been left devasted after his mum Julie Cowell died aged 89.

In a statement the Cowell family said, ‘Today our beloved mum Julie passed away. Anyone who had met her would know what a truly special and kind lady she was. We are heartbroken and will miss her terribly, but she is now at peace.’

My heart goes out to Simon – and his family – at this sad time. Because Julie was – and I believe always will be – the most important woman in his life.

I met Julie when she attend the Woman’s Own Children of Courage awards in 2008 and was struck but how glamourous, charming and down-to-earth she was. She was warm and chatty, as interested in me as I was in her and equally as proud of her son Tony who was at the event with her as his famous brother Simon, 55.

Tony tweeted: ‘Very sad night tonight. We will all miss Mum so very much. She was the heart and soul of our family x’

While women have come and gone in Simon’s life – until Lauren Silverman, mother of his only son Eric – Julie was a constant in his life.

Devoted to her family, Julie had four sons – Nicholas, Simon, Tony and Michael, and was step-mother to John and June. Never re-marrying after her husband Eric died in 1999, Julie lived in Brighton and her world evolved around family plans and keeping them all in check.

My impression of her was a loving, no-nonsense matriarch who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and who loved her family fiercely.

In fact, it’s fair to say Simon sought approval from his mum who would watch his TV shows and always pass comment if she thought he was being too cruel to X Factor contestantly.

‘She still loves to tell me off,’ Simon admitted last year. ‘The worst thing she can say to me if I’m got my friends round is, ‘Simon stop showing off’ and there’s no answer back to that.’

While his work took him around the world working crazy hours, Simon always kept in touch with Julie and was never more than a phone call away from family.

Julie was never prouder than when Simon introduced her to baby Eric last year, especially since he was named after Julie’s late husband Eric. In fact, proving just how special the bond between mother and son was, Julie was the first person Simon and Lauren told about the pregnancy.

‘I’m absolutely delighted,’ Julie said when the news broke. ‘He’ll make a fantastic father.’

During an interview in 2012, Simon revealed just how close he remained to his mum over the years – and despite eating in the best restaurants in the world he loved nothing more than a meal cooked by his mum, just like the rest of us.

‘I drove down there recently because I really wanted my mum to cook me lunch,’ he said. ‘I said, “I’m going to come down tomorrow for lunch”. She said, “great, we’ll book a hotel”. But I said, “no I want your lunch”. So eventually she did cook for me. But I like those days.’

Julie beat breast cancer over two decades ago and admitted in an interview that her diagnosis ‘knocked Simon for six’.

‘People don’t realise Simon’s a real softie at heart. Like any child, he was terribly worried about me but I was lucky, I pulled through,’ she said.

Five years ago, I interviewed Simon about his mum’s battle and he told me was a difficult, worrying time, adding ‘it just puts things in perspective’. When Julie finished treatement, Simon told me he sent her a huge bouquet of flowers to celebrate. That’s the kind of son he was. Julie was honorary president of UK charity Against Breast Cancer and both she and Simon always supported the charity.

‘I’m a tough old bird,’ Julie once said. Yes you were Julie. And one Simon and his family are no doubt very proud of.

Rest in peace, Julie.


Caroline Millington