Socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in 'dark place' when she died

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was in a dark place when she died, a close friend of the socialite has said.

The former It girl was found dead, aged 45, at her London home just months after revealing she had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (Ian West/PA)

Ivan Massow, the former chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), told ITV’s This Morning that the pair were “unlikely friends” after they “hit it off” when they shared a car to a charity event at Ascot.

“It was amazing and we were inseparable and remained close ever since,” he said.

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (Ian West/PA)

But he revealed that in recent weeks it had been difficult to get hold of Palmer-Tomkinson, who, due to her years of drug abuse, had undergone reconstruction surgery to her nose in 2006 after her septum collapsed.

On diagnosis of the tumour, Massow said: “She was facing a lot of problems … one, it was very hard for her to stay off the drinking and things, and then there was lots of surgery around her mouth and bits and pieces – her nose kept giving her problems.

“She was terribly conscious about that, and then there was this (tumour) on top … so it was another worry.

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (Fiona Hanson/PA)

“And she was never comfortable becoming an older person. It was hard for her to see herself in that role, and she was very frail.”

He told This Morning: “I hadn’t seen her for over a month, and it’s been hard to reach her.

“With people like this, you have to sort of let go with love … you can’t badger them.”

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (Yui Mok/PA)

Asked if he thought that she had returned to a “dark place”, Massow said: “Well, I know that every time I didn’t hear from her, that’s where she was … ”

This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby also spoke about her time with the socialite, revealing that Palmer-Tomkinson gave her a Chanel diamond ring, on a whim, the first time they met.

“She just had that special energy about her,” Willoughby said.

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (Steffan Rousseau/PA)

“She was just so funny and incredibly kind. I always remember that she was very generous with her time but with her spirit also.

“The first time I met her … I was having dinner and she came over to my table and said ‘You know a very good friend of mine’ and we started chatting and as she’s talking to me, she’s gesticulating with her hands, and I noticed this diamond bling, gorgeous ring, and I’m like watching her hand like a magpie and said ‘Your ring is beautiful’.

“She said ‘Oh this, this is just a bit of toot from Chanel’ and she dropped it in my champagne class and went ‘It’s yours’.

Holly Willoughby (Matt Crossick/PA Wire/PA Images)

“I said ‘No, I can’t take that!’ and she replied, ‘If you don’t take it, I’ll throw it across the restaurant’.”

Palmer-Tomkinson revealed in November that she was being treated for a non-malignant growth in her pituitary gland and had expressed fears that she would die after being told of her condition.

She was diagnosed with the tumour last January after she returned from a ski trip.

More in this Section

John Legend and fellow celebrities join ‘Florida Man challenge’

Jack Tweed ‘can’t really’ move on 10 years after wife Jade Goody’s death

David Blaine announces first ever Ireland tour

Obama congratulates Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez on engagement


Ask an expert: Is my IVF child more likely to have behaviour problems?

The clocks are changing soon: 10 things to do now to stop your child’s sleep going haywire

Bargain buys to add a touch of spring to your home

Finding your tribe

More From The Irish Examiner