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Little Mix, Alan Shearer, Jeremy Corbyn and more put pen to paper to help South Tyneside charity

From left to right, winning bidder Tom Cram, Cancer Connections founder Reg Hall and signatures collected by Brian Seales.
From left to right, winning bidder Tom Cram, Cancer Connections founder Reg Hall and signatures collected by Brian Seales.

A who’s who of celebrity signatures in one book is boosting the funds of a South Tyneside cancer support charity - for the second time.

Over 50 famous faces have signed a copy of Connecting with Cancer, launched last year to mark Cancer Connections’ 10th anniversary.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with the book.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with the book.

They include all four members of pop group Little Mix, musician Rick Wakeman, filmmaker Danny Boyle, comedian Rory Bremner and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Singer Faye Tozer, Jarrow-born former champion athlete Steve Cram, ex-South Shields MP David Miliband and retired football star Alan Shearer are also present.

The celebs were asked to sign by Brian Seales, owner of South Shields firm Ashley Timber and a long-time supporter of Cancer Connections.

He travelled around the region to meet the stars or asked friends who knew them to get them to sign.

I realised it would be nice if Brian could get more signatures

Tom Cram

The only proviso was that all who put pen to paper were photographed doing so to prove the book’s authenticity.

Tom Cram, 47, from Jarrow, bought the unique copy last month for £500 but handed it back so more signatures can be gathered, and a second fundraising sale held.

The IT company boss said: “I’m a client of Brian’s and wanted to show my support for what he was doing, and so bought the book with the highest bid.

“I then thought about what to do with it, such as pass it on to my daughter or grandson but realised it would be nice if Brian could get more signatures.

The message left by Jeremy Corbyn.

The message left by Jeremy Corbyn.

“He’s got a great energy and appetite to do that, and Cancer Connections is also a very good cause to raise money for.”

The idea came to Mr Seales, 59, at the book’s launch at The Word library in South Shields in June last year.

Written over two years by Reg Hall, a founder of South Shields-based Cancer Connections, it tells the stories of people affected by cancer and helped by the charity.

He asked VIP launch guests Jade Thirlwall, of Little Mix and a patron of the organisation, and Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig MBE, to sign.

Jade Thirlwall.

Jade Thirlwall.

More names soon followed, including his musical hero Wakeman, and Tyne Tees newsreader Pam Royle, who he describes as among the nicest he met.

He said: “I bought the book on the night and the idea came to me to get as many South Tyneside, North East and national celebrities as possible.

“The furthest I had to travel was into Northumberland, and if I couldn’t personally get the book to someone I would get a friend to.

“A lot of effort has gone into it but it’s for a very good cause. I’m now going to try to get to my target of 100 signatures.”

Mr Hall said: “The ethos of Cancer Connections is that by sharing experiences of cancer, people can help others.

“The book was written so that a greater number of people could be helped by sharing in others’ experiences of cancer.

Brian Seales heads off to collect more signatures.

Brian Seales heads off to collect more signatures.

“It was a brilliant idea of Brian’s to get signatures, it was something that was entirely his own and he has put a lot of time into doing that.

“He wanted to do it so that he could auction it and raise funds, and happily Tom has come along and bought it.”

Danny Boyle.

Danny Boyle.

Some of the messages left in the book.

Some of the messages left in the book.

David Miliband.

David Miliband.

Rory Bremner.

Rory Bremner.

Some of the messages left in the book.

Some of the messages left in the book.

Some of the messages left in the book.

Some of the messages left in the book.