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Showbiz stars help Norfolk teenager

PUBLISHED: 07:51 02 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010

STEVE DOWNES

An extraordinary collection of showbiz stars are rallying round to give a boost to a Norfolk teenager who needs a bone marrow transplant to help him beat leukaemia.

An extraordinary collection of showbiz stars are rallying round to give a boost to a Norfolk teenager who needs a bone marrow transplant to help him beat leukaemia.

Matthew Fletcher has been inundated with goodwill messages, signed photos and gifts from A-list stars like comedian Peter Kay and Radio One DJ Chris Moyles.

They took time out to encourage the 15-year-old, from Cawston, after his auntie wrote to all his favourite stars to highlight his fight against the potentially lethal condition.

Other big names who responded to the plea were all four members of The Young Ones, musician Mylo, the stars of Little Britain and the four presenters of Top Gear - including the mysterious Stig.

Matthew, a pupil at Reepham High School, was diagnosed with leukaemia in November 2005.

He has endured - with extraordinary fortitude and good cheer - a gruelling regimen of chemotherapy, resulting in long stays at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Now, after relapsing in the wake of his first programme of chemotherapy, he needs a bone marrow transplant to boost his survival chances.

Matthew has acute myeloid leukaemia, the rarest form of the condition.

The treatment has left him very sick, with ulcers in the mouth, throat and intestinal tract.

But despite the pain, he said: “I'm fine”, and added: “It doesn't get me down at all. If you worry about it and get upset it makes it worse. I've never cried or got upset.

“People call me brave, but I'm not brave. It's here - now I've got to deal with it. I understand everything that's got to happen, and I've said 'let's go'.”

He said: “It's amazing that so many stars have sent stuff to me. It has really helped.”

He needs a bone marrow transplant by August at the latest, having suffered a relapse after his first bout of chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, the search for a donor is proving frustrating. Matthew is a rare blood type, and so far only two Germans and one American have provided a match on the international database.

Parents John and Clare Fletcher have been taking turns to stay with him at Addenbrooke's.

Mrs Fletcher, a head teacher in North Walsham, said: “We really want more people to come forward to get on the register. All they have to do is go to a blood donor session.

“The more people who sign up, the better for Matthew. It gives him a better chance of finding a match.”

Matthew's fellow pupils at Reepham have also been supportive. They filmed their own Christmas X-Factor with made-up songs about their friend.


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