Terminally-ill Terry Kidgell joined by America’s Got Talent winner for ‘swansong’ gala at Ipswich Regent
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
What would you do if you were told you had just months to live? For Terry Kidgell, diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in August, the answer was simple – throw a charity gala in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
“It’s amazing how your life can turn on a sixpence. I’ve never done anything like this in my life before. I’m hopeful we can fill the Ipswich Regent. The more we can get for this wonderful charity, the happier I shall be.
“If this is my swansong, I shall be extremely happy,” said the 69-year-old Ipswich father-of-three.
Everything was normal until the beginning of this year when Mr Kidgell lost about a stone. He put it down to past health problems and the fact he and his wife of 43 years, Janis, had cut snacks out of their diet. A few months later, he lost another stone, but wasn’t experiencing any pain so put it down to their busy lifestyle.
He struggled a bit while on holiday in the south of France in June, blaming the extremely hot and humid weather or maybe a bug.
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When he had to sit down while playing bowls for the first time in his life, followed by two or three hours in bed to recover, family and friends urged him to visit his GP.
Quickly referred to Ipswich Hospital, investigations revealed a polyp which ended up being a large tumour around his colon. Further examinations revealed the infection had spread to his liver.
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“There was a discussion about chemotherapy, but I’d more or less already decided I didn’t want it. You hear so many stories of people having it and their lives and the lives of their family are absolute misery. I’d rather have three months of quality time with my family than that.”
He only came up with the idea for the show two or three weeks ago. The original idea was to throw a small fundraiser at The Ipswich and District Indoor Bowling Club, where he plays, and so he could see his niece Robyn Mellor perform with vintage trio The Spinettes one last time.
When she and her partner - America’s Got Talent winning comedy ventriloquist Paul Zerdin - got involved even more people wanted to help. Mr Zerdin, heading to Las Vegas later this month for a residency at Planet Hollywood, will headline. Joining him will be stand-up comic Phil Butler, comedy dance duo Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue, The Spinettes, West End performer Miss Mellor and her American Idiot cast-mate Natasha Barnes.
“I couldn’t have done it without a really talented relative in Robyn. The fact her boyfriend is a top act and won America’s Got Talent was a bit of a bonus,” laughed Mr Kidgell.
He is full of admiration for the NHS, Macmillan and hospice staff who have helped him.
“There’s a lot wrong with the NHS, but not with the frontline staff. Although they haven’t been able to do anything to help me they couldn’t have moved faster. I’ve nothing but admiration for everybody we’ve met. The NHS is something to be proud of.”
Mr Zerdin, whose mother had breast cancer, hopes they raise a lot of money for such a worthwhile cause.
“Some people might go ‘right, I’m having the holiday of a lifetime’, others might give up, wilt. Terry’s gone ‘right, I want to put on a big show’ and I think that’s brilliant, very admirable and I’m absolutely delighted to help in any way.
“Between myself and Robyn we know lots of people. I’ve pulled in some favours from some great comedians. You realise who your friends are when you ring around... I’ll do the big chunk in the second half and I’ve got a couple of bits I want to try out whhich I’ll be doing in Vegas if they go well. But there’ll be lots of comedy and music along the way. It’s really sad (but) we’re putting on a damn good show for him.”
The Macmillan Charity Gala is October 12 and Barclays is matching every pound raised. The Ipswich and District Indoor Bowling Club is also holding a charity drive-in November 14.