Singing sensation Tony Christie shows the way to a good holiday
HE wanted to know the way to Amarillo but singer Tony Christie found himself on the east coast this week surrounded by a sea of smiling faces.
The 70s singer was in Lowestoft on Wednesday to perform at the Marina Theatre.
But before his evening performance, he dropped into Hopton to officially open a �24,000 caravan that will provide breaks for families caring for a sick child.
The fund-raising effort was started by a teenager with a brain tumour who enjoyed her holiday to the village so much she wanted to help other families in the same position.
Stacey Johnson, 19, from Hertfordshire, has won a host of awards and the admiration of celebrities, including Kim Wilde and Noel Edmonds, who have helped raise the profile of her charity kisses4kids.
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Christie, who enjoyed a comeback in 2005 thanks to Peter Kay's Comic Relief version of his song 'Is this the way to Amarillo?' visted Hopton Holiday Village to officially open the caravan, partly paid for by National Lottery cash.
Stacey, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 14, is known as the 'children's champion' having raised thousands of pounds to improve the lot of teenagers with cancer while undergoing debilitating treatment herself.
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So far more than �35,000 has been raised through fun events and tombolas – providing facilities at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, where Stacey is a patient, and sending other sick children on treat trips.
Stacey and her mum Sharon, 43, travelled to Hopton for the opening of the luxury, eight-berth caravan.
Mrs Johnson said: 'We bought her to Hopton for a holiday in between treatment, and she enjoyed it so much she wanted the same for other families.
'When a child is sick often one parent has to stay at home, leaving just one breadwinner, and the first thing to go is holidays.
'But is just so nice to get away from Friday to Monday and to have a bit of normality away from the hospital. What is also nice is that if you have other children they can go off and play.
'Stacey just said it would be so nice to be able to send people away for a even a few days, to get away and breathe the sea air.'
Mrs Johnson added: 'Stacey has such amazing ideas. At 14-years-old she was so sure of what other kids in hospital wanted and just went ahead with all these projects. She is such an amazing person and the people she has met through her charity have been fantastic.'
Stacey's brain tumour has triggered epilepsy, thyroid and hormone problems. She has endured several bouts of nausea-inducing radiotherapy and chemotherapy but, despite the blasting, the tumour has continued to grow. She is currently on a new course of treatment.
Mrs Johnson said Tony Christie was the perfect showbiz name to open the caravan because he knew about Stacey's plight through a family link and, by a quirk of fate, was in the area at the right time.
Referrals for the holiday home will be passed to kisses4kidss from nurses nationwide and also Clic Sargent, the children's cancer charity.
For more information visit http://kisses4kids.org.uk