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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Aunt’s cancer battle inspired Cumbrian charity fundraiser

A Seaton actor and performer has revealed the real reason he decided to put on a charity concert – his aunt is battling breast cancer.

Billy Walker photo
Billy Walker with aunt Tracey Nicholson

Billy Walker, who has toured the UK in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, used his showbiz contacts to put on the Big Christmas Cracker in Workington’s Carnegie Theatre.

The show on December 15 featured a performance from Toni Warne who wowed judges on The Voice and raised more than £1,000 for breast cancer charities.

Meanwhile, 52-year-old Tracey Nicholson was fighting the disease.

Billy, 31, said: “She is like a second mum to me. You never know what it’s going to be like until somebody close to you stands in front of you and tells you ‘I have got cancer’; it absolutely terrifies you. The emotions are unbelievable. But I felt that one thing I could do for her was put this show together.”

Tracey, of Main Road, Seaton, discovered she had cancer days before her daughter’s wedding but kept her illness secret even from her own family.

She said: “My daughter got married on September 15. I knew I had a breast lump but I didn’t tell anyone because of the wedding.”

The IT support manager has had the lump removed and is two thirds of the way through her radiotherapy at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.

“From the shock of my diagnosis I have just been positive although there have been a couple of low points. But I have got a marvellous family and good colleagues who have supported me through it.”

Billy started planning the event within days of learning of his aunt’s condition.

But he also stressed that his whole family had rallied round to make it a success and offer their support.

Reggie Walker, Tracey’s father and Billy’s grandfather, travelled the “length and breath of Cumbria” to put up posters advertising the concert.

Billy said: “It gave everybody something positive and inspirational to focus on. It started off as something I was going to do. But soon the whole family were on board. My aunty took on the role of fundraiser and wrote begging letters to local businesses to get raffle prizes.”

He thanked the show’s host, BBC Radio Cumbria’s Val Armstrong, who has twice battled the disease.

He also thanked Seaton vicar Ian Grainger and Workington mayor Andrew Lawson who were also involved and the staff at the Carnegie Theatre.

Iggesund donated a real 7ft Christmas tree which was put up in the Carnegie.

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