BLACKPOOL entertainer Joe Longthorne said today he was “thrilled beyond words and excited beyond measure” at receiving an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
“The news came right out of the blue.
“I had no idea – it’s all been such a wonderful surprise,” he said. “I didn’t think people like me got things like that.”
Modest Joe, who received the honour for the hundreds of thousands of pounds he has raised for various charities, often in the face of adversity, immediately dedicated his right royal gong to “My fans, my late friend the marvellous Pat Mancini and my mum – without who I wouldn’t have had the strength and confidence to carry on.”
After fighting lymphoma, which he was first diagnosed with in the late 1980s, he later developed full blown leukaemia, prompting an international appeal for a suitable marrow donor.
A successful match in April 2005 led to the cancellation of a Blackpool summer season and a long period of hospitalisation and convalescence.
At the time, he said he felt he had let his fans down and vowed to repay their loyalty when he recovered.
“They have been wonderful and stuck with me through thick and thin,” he said.
“I know a lot of them must be behind me receiving this honour, and I’d like to find a way of thanking them all individually.”
He said his battle for life also changed his outlook completely.
“I started to see all the good things in life and all the wonderful things I could get involved with,” he added.
Currently back on another nationwide tour and preparing for a weekly run of summer of shows at Blackpool Grand Theatre from August 2 to November 1, he said: “I feel terrific. Really good.
“Just give me a microphone and I’m off.
“I do get weary with all the travelling, but people can’t all come and see me where I am, so I’ve got to go and see them.”
And the fundraising will carry on, he said, including a new Joe Longthorne Golf Classic in August.
“We’ll raise a few bob for those who need it,” he added.
“There’s so many people out there worse off than the rest of us, it’s the least we can do to rally round and raise as much as we can to help them out.”
Although born in Hull, the 57 year old entertainer calls Blackpool home.
“I’ve been part of the town on and off for 30 years, and I now I live here full time,” he said.
“It’s been good to me and it’s in my blood now, I’m just like any other resident.”
Quite what he was going to with his MBE he isn’t quite sure yet.
“I don’t normally keep things – I don’t stick gold albums on the wall or trophies on the mantelpiece, but I think I will have to make an exception with this one.”