The showbusiness community has been lining up today to offer its support for singing star Joe Longthorne in his latest battle against cancer.
The 58-year-old resort favourite was told on Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with throat cancer but has vowed to carry on performing as he undergoes treatment which is due to start next week.
Joe famously beat leukaemia after undergoing a bone marrow transplant in 2006 and is back on top form and booked in to play 74 shows this year.
But now he faces an operation to remove the lump in his throat followed by a course of radiotherapy at Blackpool Victoria Hospital where he was treated before.
Blackpool star Linda Nolan, whose sister Bernie died of cancer last July, said her whole family will be praying for his recovery.
She said: “Joe is one of our great entertainers and amazing vocalist and a musical and comedy impressionist second to none. It is such a cruel disease and to have throat cancer is a cruel twist for someone as talented as Joe.
“But he can do this, he has fought it before and I know he will battle with great dignity. He has always been very kind to our family, a great friend and we will all be praying for him.
“We have to keep fighting this disease and one day we will beat it.”
Syd Little, from the famous comedy duo Little and Large, who lives in Fleetwood, said everyone in Blackpool would be behind Joe.
He said: “Joe is wonderful and he belongs to Blackpool, even though he was born in Hull. He has made his home here and everyone has taken him to their hearts.
“I can remember Joe topping the bill at the Opera House in 1993 and performing with us before that. We were doing two shows a night, 10 weeks. We did the first half and Joe the second and the first five rows were filled with his fans! Joe was very kind to us about that. They had to put up with us but they must have liked us because they kept coming back.
“When Eddie was ill Joe was kind enough to give me some work in his shows. He is like that, a very generous man and one of the best perfomers this country has ever produced and still going strong. You can never put a good man down and I hope Joe remembers that and gets well soon.”
Blackpool promoter Duggie Chapman said he was shocked to find out Joe was once again battling cancer. He said: “I am really sorry to hear about Joe. He had leukaemia before and fought back so I am sure he can do it again.
“He is a real trouper and I am sure he will carry on working. He’s a real showman. He has a very loyal army of fans who I’m sure will be supporting him all the way through.”
Agent Eric Hall said he had been inundated with phone calls from stars wishing Joe well.
He said: “Barbara Windsor’s very upset to hear Joe isn’t well and is thinking about him, I have had Liz Dawn who plays Vera on Coronation Street on the phone to offer her support, Engelbert Humperdinck, everyone.
“I was speaking to Rose Marie who Joe worked with quite recently in Blackpool and she said she can’t believe it. She sends her love and told me to tell him he will be all right.
“It is really good to see all these messages of good will, it shows the respect in which he is held and I know it will help him when he is starting his treatment next week.”
Comedy star Bobby Ball rang from filming location to offer his support. He said: “I have just heard the news. He’s a really strong man and I know he will keep going until he’s better.
“He is one of Blackpool’s own and the town will support him. I hope he will get well soon because he’s a great talent and we need to have him performing.”
Martin Heywood at Viva where Joe is performing a special Midnight Matinee show this weekend and his 59th birthday show on May 31, said: “Everyone here wishes Joe all the best for a speedy recovery and we can’t wait to welcome him here this weekend.
“It’s going to be an emotional show and I know his fans will be there for him. If anyone could be said to not deserve this it would be Joe. He is a lovely man and a great performer.
“We knew there was a chance that it might be cancer but when we heard the news yesterday it was still a shock. I spoke to him last night and we are all behind him.”
Joe’s manager Jamie Moran said: “Joe had found a lump in his throat and went to the doctor. He has had leukaemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant so he knows what to expect from the treatment.
“He has beaten it once so he can do it again. The medical team at Blackpool Victoria have been great with him.”
Joe himself said he was taking a positive outlook and would fight all the way to get fit again.
He said: “I would like to say to my fans at this time to think of my charities and give their support if they can. I am taking each day one day at a time and will remain positive and resolute about the outcome.”