Gordon Ramsay pays tribute to MasterChef Junior’s Ben Watkins after he dies aged 14
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Gordon Ramsay has paid tribute to Ben Watkins, after his death aged 14.
The talented youngster had taken part on the Gordon-hosted MasterChef Junior at just 11.
Ben had been undergoing treatment amid a battle with a rare form of cancer at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
His family confirmed that he died on Monday.
Gordon shared a snap of Ben in his MasterChef apron, writing: "We lost a Master of the @masterchefjunior kitchen today.
"Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered.
"I adored our time cooking and laughing together on set. Heartbroken today losing my little mate, sending all my love to Ben Watkins' family with this terrible loss Gx."
Ben died aged 14
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Gordon and Ben's MasterChef Junior co-stars had sent him a video message after hearing about his health battle, and helped raise donations on a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for hospital bills.
Ben didn't win the competition, but became a firm fan favourite.
Just days after his 13th birthday, he was diagnosed a soft tissue tumour.
Ben's family have told that he was one of six people in the world diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma.
Ben took part in the sixth season of MasterChef Junior
Gordon sent Ben a video message after learning of his health battle
(Image: Getty Images for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit)
His diagnosis came three years after the death of his parents.
The Chicago Tribune was told by police that Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins died in a domestic violence incident ruled as a murder-suicide.
According to police reports, Mike shot and killed Leila before turning the gun on himself.
Following their deaths, Ben was being looked after by his maternal grandmother and uncle.
Mike and Leila had owned Big Ben's Bodacious BBQ and Delicatessen in Gary, Indiana, where Ben was inspired to cook.
Ben was a fan favourite on the show
The GoFundMe page they set up read: "Ben is an aspiring chef.
"He opened Big Ben's Bodacious BBQ and Delicatessen in the Miller Community of Gary, Indiana with his late parents, Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins.
"Shortly after his 13th birthday, Ben was diagnosed with a rare illness called Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. [It's] a soft tissue tumour usually in children and young adults.
He was inspired to cook at his parents' restaurant
"Young Ben is one of only six people in the entire world with this illness. Ben is currently undergoing treatment at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
"Despite all of Ben's trials and tribulations, he remains positive. He looks forward to getting back in the kitchen and pursuing his dream to become an engineer."