Blue singer Lee Ryan has paid a visit to a Bournemouth man in desperate need of a bone marrow donor, who he once partied with backstage.
Fun-loving retail manager Malcolm Briggs has acute myeloid leukaemia, and has been told his best chance of survival comes from a bone marrow transplant.
Malcolm, who lives alone in Bournemouth, is now relying on the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan to find a matching donor who is willing to save his life.
His wide network of loyal friends have rallied around, with best pal Ian Reeves starting an online calendar and email group, so that they can always make sure Malcolm has plenty of visitors at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
The latest of these visitors was none other than Blue singer Lee Ryan.
Lee heard about Malcolm’s plight through a mutual friend and, remembering the ‘top bloke’ he’d met backstage at the O2 Bournemouth two years ago, decided to pay Malcolm a visit to offer his support and boost his search for a donor.
Lee Ryan said: “I remember Malcolm well from a couple of years ago, he is an absolutely top bloke. We had a good laugh backstage and it was clear that he’s someone who loves life and has brilliant mates around him.
“I’m so sorry to now hear that he’s in need of a bone marrow transplant. Malcolm’s life now depends on a stranger who’s taken the step of joining the Anthony Nolan register. The least I can do is try and spread the word about how easy and important it is to sign up and save a life.”
When he first met the Blue boys in October 2013, Malcolm was in remission from blood cancer. He had been diagnosed at the beginning of the year, after feeling ill over Christmas.
Malcolm, 57, said: “I’d been getting nosebleeds and feeling really lethargic, and then at Christmas, wasn’t even able to eat Christmas lunch, which was most unusual for me! Soon afterwards I went to see my doctor and was eventually diagnosed with leukaemia. I spent months at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital receiving treatment and was delighted when it seemed to have been successful.”
Described by his best friend of 40 years Ian as the ‘life and soul of the party’, Malcolm, 57, is a popular local man and, at the time of meeting Blue, was making the most of life after cancer.
Malcolm said: “I was a fan of Blue when they originally formed, so when I heard they’d reunited, I was thrilled to be invited as a VIP guest by one of my friends who knew the band. It all got even more exciting when I was invited backstage to say hello to the boys and we all hung out.
“We had a brilliant time, they were so friendly and it was a lovely thing to happen, after having spent so much of that year in hospital receiving cancer treatment.”
Two years later, Malcolm has been reunited with Blue singer Lee Ryan – this time in tougher times.
“I was told the leukaemia had returned in January,” said Malcolm, originally from Sheffield, who moved to Bournemouth in the late 90s. “My best hope of a cure is now to have a bone marrow transplant at the Southampton hospital. None of my three siblings is a match for me, so I’ll need to find a total stranger on the Anthony Nolan register whose tissue type matches my own.
“Donating your stem cells or bone marrow is something that no one seems to think is important, and it’s so far removed from most people’s daily life. But when you are in the position of looking for a donor, it all becomes very real and the most important thing in the world.
“I would urge young, fit people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register now. You’re signing up to help save someone’s life. That’s a very special gift to give.”
Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, said: “We’re so grateful to Malcolm and Lee for helping to spread this vital and lifesaving message. Joining the register involves filling in an online form and providing a saliva sample. If you are a match for someone like Malcolm, donating stem cells is usually very similar to giving blood. It’s remarkable that something so simple could be absolutely life-changing for Malcolm.”
If you are aged 16 to 30 and in good health you can join the Anthony Nolan register by clicking on the button below: