John Noakes, who hosted the popular British children’s television show Blue Peter, died Sunday morning after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83. 

A family friend confirmed his death to The Sun on Monday, saying the presenter’s release “from continuing ill health must be counted as a blessing.” 

“His many escapades with his faithful companion Shep, during his time with Blue Peter, will live on in many peoples memories. That is how his family would like him remembered,” according to the friend’s statement. 

Noakes hosted the British children’s TV show from 1965 to 1978. He was the longest-serving host on Blue Peter, appearing on the show with his dog Shep and often saying the phrase “get down Shep.” 

Noakes was rushed to the hospital nearly two years ago after he disappeared near his home in Majorca, Spain. He had been living with Alzheimer’s for a few years, but only close friends knew about the diagnosis, according to The Sun. 

Noakes hosted the show with Valeria Singleton and Peter Purves. Previous show hosts paid their tribute to Noakes, calling him the “best, bravest and funniest BP presenter.” 

“The best, bravest, funniest BP presenter. If we didn’t walk in John Noakes’ shadow it’s because he shone the light for us. RIP,” Janet Tellis, who hosted the show from 1980s, wrote on Twitter Monday morning. 

“John Noakes. Best Blue Peter presenter ever. RIP. So sad,” former host Konnie Huq said. 

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