Figures from all sectors of society have paid tribute to “inspirational” Anita Roddick following her sudden death from a brain haemorrhage.
The Body Shop founder died aged 64 at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, at 6.30pm last night.
Her husband, Gordon, and daughters Sam and Justine were at her side.
In a statement, the family said Roodick had been admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit on Sunday evening. She collapsed after complaining of a sudden headache.
Her sudden death brought emotional tributes from the many charities, organisations and individuals she had helped or worked with during her many years as a businesswoman, campaigner and activist.
The Prime Minister led the tributes, calling Roddick one of this country’s “true pioneers”.
Gordon Brown said: “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market.”
Mr Brown added she would be remembered as not only a great campaigner but as a great entrepreneur.
“As one of this country’s most successful businesswomen she was an inspiration to women throughout the country striving to set up and grow their own companies. She will be much missed and my thoughts are with her family and friends,” he said.
Roddick became known originally for her Body Shop cosmetic empire, which specialised in bringing “eco-friendly” products to the public.
But she gained international recognition for championing many causes closes to her heart, from green issues to human rights and Third World debt.
In February this year, Roddick revealed she was carrying the hepatitis C virus.
Charles Gore, chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said after her diagnosis, Roddick quickly became a patron of the charity.
He said: “Working with her was so joyful. The great thing about Anita was that she took all her causes incredibly seriously but she never took herself seriously, which made her really fun to be with.”
Mr Gore said that despite suffering from hepatitis C and having cirrhosis of the liver, Anita had “very few symptoms”.
He also confirmed that people with hepatitis C were not more likely to suffer a brain haemorrhage because of their condition.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, and personal friend, said: “She was so ahead of her time when it came to issues of how business could be done in different ways, not just profit motivated but taking into account environmental issues.
“When you look at it today, and how every company claims to be green, she was living this decades ago.
He added: “I will miss her.”
Adrian Bellamy, chairman of The Body Shop International, said: “Anita leaves us with an enduring legacy which will long guide the affairs of The Body Shop. Our heartfelt condolences are with the Roddick family at this sad time.”
Emma Colyer, director of HIV and Aids charity Body & Soul, of which Roddick was a patron, said: “She was a great advocate for us, and for putting the issue of HIV on the agenda.”
Ms Colyer added: “She was constantly thinking of new ways to look at things. You couldn’t be tired when you were with her, she would soon tell you off if you didn’t keep up!
“She was simply inspirational.”
Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: “Anita was a leading light of the modern green movement, and was one the first people to combine a profitable business with environmental responsibility.
“She spent an enormous amount of energy not only in running a pioneering company but also devoted passion and creativity to helping green, human rights and development organisations achieve their aims.
Brendan Cox, executive director of Crisis Action, a charity funded by Dame Anita, said: “Anita was an inspiration. She showed the scale of what you can achieve when you fight for it. Her energy, ambition and idealism will be an inspiration to thousands for years to come.
“Anita challenged social entrepreneurs to raise their game. Enough bring and buy sales, let’s change the global economy. She showed that tinkering at the edges wasn’t where we should stop, we should get involved, get our hands dirty and change the world trying.”
Clive Stafford Smith, legal director of anti-death penalty organisation Reprieve, said: “It is a terrific blow to her family and all who knew her.”
Justin Francis, of Responsible Travel.com, a business Roddick supported, said: “She was an incredible lady, a real livewire.”
Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “Anita Roddick’s passion for human rights was immeasurable and we have lost a true champion of the oppressed and persecuted.”
Shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth said: “Roddick was a pioneer in adapting commercial success to environmental and social values.”
Harriet Harman. Deputy leader of the Labour Party and Minister for Women, said: “Anita was exceptionally generous and she campaigned for and helped women.
“But it was not just her generosity which was so valued by women’s organisations but also her imaginative leadership and her understanding of the need to back small groups of women doing vital work to help other women.”
Simon Hughes, president of the Liberal Democrats, said: “Anita Roddick was one of the great British role models of our age.
“She was a great environmentalist, ethical businesswoman, and campaigner for human rights worldwide.”