In fact, 2 Wild Nights living it up like the rich and famous; I have recently attained VIP status and there is even a pass to prove it!
Way back in November, when I spent my days donning a plastic mask and getting zapped by a futuristic particle accelerator, the incredibly great radiographers at the Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology encouraged me to complete an application form for the Willow Foundation; a charity aimed at providing special days for seriously ill 16-40 yr olds. I had been reluctant at first, as I didn’t feel I was seriously ill anymore and thought that the money could be spent on someone more worthy. However the radiographer advised me that it was exactly for people like me and that even though I may be on the road to recovery, I still deserved a special day to help move on after treatment and to help me get over it all. She also told me that I would be the only person to ever decline the offer and so I went for it. This was probably one of the best decisions I EVER made!
7 months later I found myself at the very front of the sell out Bon Jovi gig at Manchester, Old Trafford Cricket Ground with my carer – Eve. This is because we had entered the “Diamond Circle” as a part of my Diamond Ring VIP package to the event.
The whole day was amazing from start to finish. We were picked up in a taxi from Liverpool and driven to Manchester. When we arrived we got handed our VIP passes and free gear (canvas bag, tour program etc.) and made our way to the Pre Show Party. In the Party we indulged in a few cheeky drinks (it was an open bar – hence the taxi) and a hot carvery buffet before mingling with several other VIP’s (some much more important than others – find out why later). We watched the support acts from the balcony as we couldn’t leave a free bar, then headed down to the gig, nonchalantly, about 10 minutes before the band were due on, flashing our passes on the way! From then on it was 2:30 hours of stadium rock as its best as Jon and the boys blasted out hit after hit to a rain drenched crowd. Jon likened it to “taking a shower with 45 thousand of my closest friends!” After a memorable performance that even included Jon walking off the stage and around a catwalk behind our section.
The band finished with all time classic and wedding disco favourite “Livin’ on a Prayer” before we headed off into the Manchester night to be met by our taxi driver. Several illegal manoeuvres later and we were home, why did it have to end so soon?! There are some more photos at the end of the post.
It was an amazing experience and one that I could never have done without the support of the charity and I want to highlight the great work that the Willow Foundation do every day, helping people like me have special days. In some cases this can be tickets to a football match, others a few precious days away with the family, some a driving experience, you name it (literally). In ALL cases young adults who have been affected by life threatning diseases are left with something to look forwards too, a great memory, a chance to forget what they may be going through or have been through and do something amazing! I intend to make sure the charity is reimbursed with every penny that they must have spent on me (a not insignificant amount) by using work events and company £ 4 £ matching. But if anyone else feels in some way like they want to help, then please do so via the charity itself by offering money, by attending an event, even by offering a service or event that they may be able to provide to people who are looking for inspiration?
Anyway, things didn’t end at the Bon Jovi concert, oh no…
As we were tucking into the open bar and free carvery afforded to the VIP set at a Bon Jovi gig, we were fortunate enough to meet one of the loveliest families in the country. The Westwaters had arrived, slightly late and sat at our table. After a lot of chatting and joking with David and Sarah, after blowing the surprise of a fresh-out-of-rehab Ritchie Sambora to Madison (one of 2 very lucky daughters – and Ritchie’s biggest fan) and after admiring the banner brought along by Arielle (daughter number 2) we were about to go down to the merch stand to buy an (obligatory) tour T-Shirt when David and Sarah offered us the chance to go an see Take That, VIP (of course) in Birmingham! What a great offer, and one that we took up (after Nan and Grandad agreed to look after the baby – again)! We travelled down the following Tuesday and had a brilliant time, hosted by the Westwaters in their private box – David was delighted that his name was on the door, I think he took several photo’s to savour the moment! The band came on after a three course meal, free bar and a warm up by the Pet Shop Boys. We all had a great time, especially Arielle who was there to see Gary Barlow in particular (He’s her favourite). We got to meet Leighton and Aunty Diane too. I think Leighton enjoyed the concert, even though he spent most of the time playing XBox with the catering staff – perhaps early 90′s boy-bands weren’t his thing ;-). Anyway, if you are reading this guys, thanks again for hosting us. We had a great time and we will always remember it!
The concert itself was pretty spectacular. The band were on top form and sold out the stadium 2 nights over. The production was amazing and I think I was even busted singing one of the songs (you can’t beat “Never Forget” can you?)
So I have been busy and treated like a king over the last few weeks. I don’t feel worthy, I really don’t. It didn’t end there either. Since then I have had free entry to a comedy event in Liverpool and met one of the acts (he was one of my best mates but still- Thanks Peter Michael Gerald Marshall). I have been offered a free adventure day with some friends courtesy of Grant at Anglesey Adventures (which I am defo going to do). Oh and the baby has even decided to let me share her dummy in an all out cute-fest. I even got an award (and a cash prize) in work. VIP clearly opens doors!
Once again; thanks again for reading. The fact I am now up to 15.5K hits makes me feel even more like a VIP!
Here are some more pictures: