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Claire Rayner - the 1,000-letters-a-week agony aunt

Her parting shot was: "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and blo

Claire Rayner, the former agony aunt of The Sun, the Sunday Mirror and Woman's Own, has died at the age of 79.

At the height of her fame, in the 1970s and 1980s, she was said to receive 1,000 letters a week and to answer them all.

Her parting shot was: "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him."

Her husband Des said: "Through her work she helped hundreds of thousands of people and doubtless, by talking frankly about the importance of safe sex in the eighties when almost nobody else would discuss it, helped to save thousands of lives.

"Through her own approach to life she enabled people to talk about their problems in a way that was unique.

"Right up until her death she was being consulted by both politicians and the medical profession about the best way to provide the health services the nation deserved and nothing mattered to her more than that. Her death leaves a vacancy which will not be filled."

Rayner began her career as a nurse and while on maternity leave to have her first child became a freelance journalist.

As well as being a newspaper and magazine agony aunt she was prolific broadcaster and author of more than 90 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Her family have asked that the media leave Mr Rayner to grieve in peace.