Ipswich: Daniel O’Donnell makes Basil’s 90th birthday wish come true

When 89-year-old Basil Wiggins arrived at the Regent Theatre, he never believed he was about to meet one of his favourite performers.

But when he walked up to the stage and was greeted by Irish singing legend Daniel O’Donnell, he was left speechless.

Basil, who is set to turn 90 on Wednesday, thanked The Evening Star after we teamed up with his son, Tom, to arrange for him to meet the popular crooner for a special birthday treat.

Basil, from Ipswich, said: “I can’t really believe it. Daniel is such a nice man and I have always loved his music – ever since I first got a tape of his songs when he hadn’t even performed in England.

“I think it’s great that I got to meet him – I love western country music.”

Tom added: “I have watched my father and my mother, Eva, get so much enjoyment from Daniel O’Donnell’s music. I’m delighted that they both got to meet him.”

Meanwhile, crowds of excitable life-long fans gathered outside for a night of musical delights.

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The entertainer has performed to sell-out crowds at the Ipswich Regent theatre for a number of years, with fans known to queue for tickets hours before they go on sale.

Joyleen Bentley travelled all the way from Cambridgeshire to watch the star. She said: “I love him and I love his music, I have seen him four times before and I think he is great.”

Gloria Hedley, from Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, wasn’t only excited to see the star in action – she was also celebrating the 20th anniversary of joining the Daniel O’Donnell fan club.

Covered in badges and donning one of O’Donnell’s jackets that she purchased in an auction, Mrs Hedley said: “He has an awe about him and he is just such a genuinely nice man.

“He has a great relationship with his fans. I have met him on a number of occasions and he knows me by name.

“You’re always guaranteed to get a good show.”

Known for his hits Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love?, Morning Has Broken, and You Raise Me Up, as well as his generosity to his fans, the crooner also met with youngsters from the Suffolk Academy of Dance and Performing Arts ahead of their big performance at the theatre on June 11.

The show is part of their Thumbs Up campaign to raise money for youngsters with brain tumours.

More than 100 dancers aged between three and 18 will take to the stage as part of a musical-themed dance show.

The event will feature numbers from Bugsy Malone, Mary Poppins and the Wizard of Oz, and is set to aid the Camille’s Appeal charity.

n What did you think of Daniel O’Donnell’s performance? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk