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Strictly's Shirley Ballas reveals sadness after father suddenly dies

The star was estranged from her father during her childhood

Andrea Caamano

Shirley Ballas is mourning the death of her father after he suddenly passed away.

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Announcing the news on her Instagram, the Strictly Come Dancing judge shared several pictures of herself and her father, writing: "With sadness and a heavy heart my father George Andrew Rich fondly known as Andy, has passed away suddenly. My heart goes out to his wife Liz the love of his life who was with him for over 40 years and to all who knew him.

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"It's hard to find the right words at this moment, my father lost two sons in his lifetime and I hope you can all find each other in the after life. So many things left unsaid, RIP Dad you will be missed but not forgotten. @mischiefminky @rich.audrey @markballas #Dad."

Many of Shirley's friends rushed to offer their condolences, with Ruth Langsford saying: "I'm so sorry Shirley. Condolences to you and the family and sending you the hugest hug. "Strictly's Neil Jones added: "I'm sorry to hear. Sending my love."

Presenter Claudia Winkleman remarked: " I'm so sorry. Sending you so much love xxx."

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Shirley and her son Mark posing with her dad

Shirley was estranged from her father after he left their family home when she was only two years old – she was raised by her mum Audrey and brother David, who sadly passed away in 2013.

It was following David's tragic death that she reconnected with her dad.

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She told the Radio Times later: "My dad wasn't part of my life until David died, when we grew closer. Now I love him to bits."

Shirley is also very close to her mum, who is currently battling cancer.

Last May, Shirley gave an update on her health as she spoke live on HELLO! magazine's Friday night Instagram show, HELLO! Let's Gab.

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The Strictly judge paid a beautiful tribute to her father on Instagram

Speaking to presenter Gaby Roslin, she spoke about their decision to self-isolate separately during the first lockdown.

"My mother is self-isolating up north, she didn't want to come down and self-isolate with me," she revealed.

The 60-year-old dancer later added: "My mum has cancer, she's self-isolating. I have to say, I got very cross with BT today. Somehow her phone line has been off for nine days, I've called every single day, they have not helped, she's vulnerable, she's 83 years of age but they assure me that it will be on by Tuesday. That's ten days without a phone.

"You know, you worry about your parents when they are in their eighties, what if they fall? How do they alert a neighbour if they don't have a phone?"

Describing her mother, Shirley continued: "But my mum, if I call her, she is your inevitable bright, 'I'm in the garden, I'm cleaning the windows, I'm doing the washing, I'm changing the beds.' She is bright as a button. You will never hear out of my mother a negative word and I take that from her. It's important to be honest but no one wants to listen to Debbie Downers all the time, there's enough of her in the world, you know?"

Shirley first talked about her mum's cancer diagnosis in November 2018, revealing that she had decided not to have chemotherapy. Confirming the news to The Mirror, she said: "She was diagnosed earlier this year. But she’s a trouper and we are dealing with it."

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