Little Blake Barley from Dereham meets popular band Blake

It was a meeting of two Blakes – and brought a broad smile to the face of one brave little Norfolk boy.

The globetrotting singing quartet, whose previous live performances have included everything from Shirley Bassey's 70th birthday party to the Melbourne Cup in Australia and the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, were in Norfolk on Saturday for one of the most eagerly-awaited events of Dereham Festival 2012.

But before going in front of the spotlights at Dereham Memorial Hall, Humphrey Berney, Stephen Bowman, Jules Knight, Ollie Baines and their piano accompanist Martin Riley had a private engagement to fulfil backstage – a meeting with Toftwood boy Blake Barley, who won the hearts of people across Norfolk when an appeal was launched to enable him to have life–changing surgery in the United States.

Blake turned up with a card for the group to thank them for their gifts in support of the appeal, which has reached around �80,000 in less than a year after the Blake's Wish to Walk appeal was set up by his parents, Luke and Debbie. Money has still been trickling in towards his continuing care and therapy.

And, on hearing that he had celebrated his fourth birthday only days previously, the singing stars responded by launching into a spontaneous chorus of Happy Birthday in their trademark harmony style.

Debbie said she was still trying to get round to thanking everyone who had helped the appeal for Blake's successful operation, which took place at St Louis Children's Hospital just before Christmas. She added: 'It has been just phenomenal.'

Blake had had to rely previously on a walking frame and wheelchair to get around. He was born 10 weeks early and developed a form of cerebral palsy after suffering a bleed on his brain. Permanent stiffness in his leg muscles meant he could only walk on tiptoes and had to wear leg splints to force his heels to the ground.

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For Norfolk-raised Humphrey, who grew up at Hockering and went to Taverham Hall School and Gresham's, at Holt, the Dereham concert was something of a homecoming.

He said he was inspired to hear Blake's story since he had raised money in the past for the disability and cerebral palsy charity, Scope. 'It was lovely for us to be involved with Blake and to help if we could,' he added.

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