Colin, who is 49 and a patient at St Ann’s Hospice in Cheadle, and Julie Wilmoth were invited to attend an event as special guests where Rick was performing, and hospice staff and volunteers rallied round to make sure he could be there to hear Rick dedicate the song to them.
Colin has been a fan of Rick Astley for years, and bought me his album, 50. When he was living in Glasgow before moving to Manchester and I was travelling a lot to see him, I’d listen to it in the car. We first listened to the song “Angels On My Side” at Lancaster services, and it became our song when Colin told me that I’m his angel and every line was written for us.
When we received the invitation to the event, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to make it happen as Colin is quite ill. But after speaking to the team at St Ann’s, we decided we had to get him there and during that week, it was all about making sure Colin got to see Rick Astley! All the doctors and nurses, the physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social worker, fundraising team and volunteers all pulled together to make sure Colin was as fit and well as possible to enable him to go out. They even arranged the hire of a dinner suit for Colin to wear! We were driven to the event by a volunteer driver and accompanied by one of the doctors, who made sure Colin wasn’t in any pain, both of them giving up their Saturday evening for us. Julie
Rick was performing at Maggie’s on the Runway, a gala dinner run by cancer support centre, Maggie’s Manchester. Colin and Julie had used their services before being admitted to St Ann’s, and when staff there found out that Colin is a fan, they got in touch with Rick, who’s an ambassador for the centre. He sent the couple a personal video message and spent time with them at the event, which Maggie’s had invited them to attend.
It was amazing meeting Rick. During the dinner, Colin was starting to get tired and needed to go back to the hospice. Rick got on stage an hour early, during his meal, and performed one song - our song - with the Manchester Rock Choir, so we got to hear it before leaving. I am blown away by how fabulous two of our local charities are. Firstly Maggie’s Manchester for inviting Colin and I to attend their ball as special guests and watch Rick Astley perform. And secondly St Ann’s Hospice, where the team have bent over backwards to make this happen. Julie
Going the extra mile in this way, with our staff and volunteers all working together to make something special happen for a patient, is really what St Ann’s is all about. The buzz throughout the hospice in the run up to Colin and Julie’s trip was amazing, we were almost as excited as they were! It was brilliant that both St Ann’s and Maggie’s Manchester were able to give them such a special evening. Eamonn O’Neal, Chief Executive at St Ann’s
Colin and Julie are passionate about Maggie’s Manchester and how the Centre has helped them. It has been wonderful to be able to give them emotional and practical support from the minute they walked through our door. To then be able to give them this very special experience with Rick Astley was very important to us and we’re hugely grateful to Rick and St Ann’s for helping us to make it happen. Sinead Collins, Maggie’s Centre Head