SOUTH Shields singing star Joe McElderry made a special connection when he met cancer patients and their families.
The 20-year-old former X-Factor champion called in at the Cancer Connections centre in Harton Lane, South Shields, yesterday to chat to patients, sign Christmas cards and perform some songs.
Joe, from Westoe, South Shields, is a long-time supporter of the charity and said: “It feels lovely – it’s really great to be here.
“I’ve been to the old place Cancer Connections had, but I hadn’t been here yet. It’s been nice to have a look around. It’s a lovely place.
“Every time I come home, I like to do whatever I can to help people out.
“People in South Tyneside have supported me, so it’s nice to be able to give something back. That’s very important to me.”
He added: “I really like performing to small crowds like this, because it’s a lot more intimate than the bigger gigs.”
Taylor Bellerby, a Westoe Crown Primary School pupil, is a huge fan of Joe.
The 10-year-old recently recorded a charity single in memory of her father, Ian, who died on August 17, just four months after being diagnosed with skin cancer.
Mr Bellerby, 34, of Donkins Street, Boldon Colliery, found a mole on his leg, but by the time he visited a doctor, the disease had spread too far.
Taylor said: “It’s really exciting meeting Joe. He’s my favourite singer. I love him.”
Her mother, Vicki Pollard, 30, from Marsden, South Shields, said: “I’m just so chuffed that Taylor got to be here today with Joe.
“She met him at his signing session at Asda and gave him one of her CDs, and she’s so pleased that he’s got one.
“She loves singing and she really looks up to Joe and the girls from Little Mix, to see that she can achieve something if she tries.” Deborah Roberts, co-founder of Cancer Connections, said: “We’re just absolutely ecstatic to have Joe here.
“It’s amazing for people in Cancer Connections, because some of them are having a really hard time at the minute.
“A cancer diagnosis is a hard thing to handle, even more so around Christmas time.
“Joe coming here is just lovely. He’s always been a big supporter of us.
“Even before the days of X-Factor, he used to do charity work with us.
“To have someone like him take time out of his busy schedule to come down and chat with people and sing for them is just wonderful.
“We’re so grateful.”