LOVE Islander Belle Hassan has paid tribute to Caroline Flack, revealing how the show’s much-loved host offered “a shoulder to cry on” for all the contestants.

Belle, who reached the final stages of the ITV2 hit last year, was left heartbroken after Caroline took her own life a week ago.

 Tragic host Caroline Flack killed herself last week

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Tragic host Caroline Flack killed herself last weekCredit: Getty Images – Getty

In an emotional interview, she said the 40-year-old presenter was “so, so loved”.

Belle, 21, told The Sun on Sunday: “Caroline was such a fun character and always seemed so happy. She was an amazing person and had such energy.

“When she came into the villa she was there for us, a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand and an ear to listen to us.

“She was someone to talk to, at happy times and sad times. Often when she was there someone would be leaving or had been given difficult news.

 Belle Hassan says Caroline Flack made contestants feel good

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Belle Hassan says Caroline Flack made contestants feel goodCredit: ITV

“She would always comfort them and give them a cuddle. I remember her comforting Amber Gill, who went on to win the show, after she was dumped by Michael Griffiths in favour of Joanna Chimonides.

“Molly-Mae Hague was also in tears in that episode and Caroline gave her a big cuddle. Between takes she would go out of her way to compliment people. She would say she liked their dresses and tell the boys, ‘Oh, you look so handsome’.

“I remember her telling me I had lovely long legs. She was always going out of her way to make people feel good about themselves.

“She was such a loved person and we all loved her. To think she felt so low that she saw no way out is just heartbreaking.”

 Caroline shares a laugh with Belle and Anton Danyluk on Love Island's reunion show

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Caroline shares a laugh with Belle and Anton Danyluk on Love Island’s reunion showCredit: ITV
 Caroline with Love Island 2019 winner Amber Gill

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Caroline with Love Island 2019 winner Amber GillCredit: Instagram

Caroline’s body was discovered by a friend at her flat in Stoke Newington, North London, on February 15.

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Her death came just a day after Caroline was told the trial for assaulting her boyfriend, tennis player Lewis Burton, would be going ahead.

The news of her death left millions of fans reeling alongside her devastated family and friends. Belle told how all last year’s Islanders were hit hard by the news.

She said: “I was having dinner when a friend called to ask if I was OK “When they told me what had happened, I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I had to take myself off and have a minute because I just couldn’t understand how that had happened. I cried.

 Caroline had many happy times with boyfriend Lewis Burton

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Caroline had many happy times with boyfriend Lewis BurtonCredit: Instagram

“I’ve been down before but I’ve never felt, ‘I’m done’. It hit me how upset she must have felt. And I kept thinking about how her friends and her family must be feeling.

“I spoke to quite a few of the other Love Islanders afterwards and we were all asking, ‘How are you? If you need to talk about anything, just ask’.

“A lot of the time people don’t want to talk and say, ‘I’m struggling’ because we all put on this front that we’re strong and can deal with it.

“But it is OK to not be OK. There’s no shame in not being OK with things, in saying to someone, ‘Look, I’m struggling and feel like I can’t cope’.

 Caroline's final Instagram post featured a selection of adorable pictures with her pet dog

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Caroline’s final Instagram post featured a selection of adorable pictures with her pet dogCredit: Instagram

“I hope one thing people learn from this tragedy is that even if someone seems fine, they might not be.

“If this can happen to Caroline, who was so much fun and had such a fantastic energy, it can happen to anyone. We all need to be kinder.”

Belle, whose actor father Tamer Hassan knew Caroline too, last saw the host at the Love Island wrap party after returning from the TV villa in Majorca.

Caroline stepped down from her £1.2million presenting role a week after being charged with the assault of her boyfriend last year. She was replaced as host by her pal Laura Whitmore.

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 An inquest into Caroline Flack's death opened last week

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An inquest into Caroline Flack’s death opened last weekCredit: AFP or licensors

Belle said of Caroline’s decision to step aside: “She was the only person who could make that choice. I think maybe she should have been on the show. She hadn’t been found guilty of anything and it was her personal life, not work.

“It must have been such a horrible time for her because until then I’d never heard anyone say a single bad word about her. People loved her.

“Then all of a sudden this story comes out and everyone has an opinion, saying she’s this and that, when actually she was such a lovely person.

“When you’re in the spotlight everything is magnified and people can be so hurtful.”

 Belle Hassan and Anton Danyluk on last year's Love Island

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Belle Hassan and Anton Danyluk on last year’s Love IslandCredit: Rex Features

Caroline’s death was the third linked to Love Island, following contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.

ITV bosses have taken steps to improve its care of Islanders. Belle has regular contact with a welfare team set up by the broadcaster.

She said: “Before Love Island, I could f*** up a million times and carry on. But after coming out of the villa, everything was different. You are being judged at every second and that is very difficult to deal with.

“I know lots of us have really struggled, and felt very down. Anton Danyluk, who I was coupled up with on the show, Molly-Mae, Michael and Joanna have all had a rough time. But the ITV team have been nothing but supportive. They still ring me all the time to ask, ‘Are you OK? How are you coping with everything?’

“I got a call last week when the news about Caroline broke and I get text messages too. There has been lots of talk since Caroline’s death about axing the show and I do think ITV should maybe consider a review now.

“I would be sad to see Love Island cancelled though because it’s a great show and it changed my life.

“Something needs to change — but maybe that’s about helping people to be kinder, in words and actions, and to look after each other better.”

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost – to suicide.

It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes. And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet, it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun today launches the You’re Not Alone campaign. To remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there’s nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, over the course of this week, we will tell you the stories of brave survivors, relatives left behind, heroic Good Samaritans – and share tips from mental health experts.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others.
You’re Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

Caroline Flack was ‘terrified’ of trial and ‘all her friends were worried’ reveals Nicola McLean


  • If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123





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