Sale of celebrity autographs pay for care


Singer Shirzell Dipavia with Kevin Rowland, Jez O'Reilly and Seán Cannon of Irish folk legends The Dubliners.

Singer Shirzell Dipavia with Kevin Rowland, Jez O’Reilly and Seán Cannon of Irish folk legends The Dubliners.

A former roadie from Coventry is collecting the autographs of some of the music world’s biggest names to help pay for his sick brother’s care.

Jez O’Reilly has been networking in the music business with a view to getting stars to sign a special tambourine.

Jez then hopes to sell the unique percussion instrument to help pay for treatment for his brother Patrick, who suffers from locked-in syndrome.

Although Patrick is conscious and aware of everything that goes on around him, the condition means he can only move his eyelids, smile and cry.

Jez said: “My brother had a bad stroke last year, and spent six months in hospital. He went home about two months ago, but it’s all very difficult.

“Patrick can only move his eyes, and he can smile and cry. That’s all he can do.

“His best friend told me that he could understand everything that was going on around him, but I wasn’t sure.”

He added: “When I visited him, I talked about things that only he would remember – stories and things that had happened.

“He was smiling – he knew what I was on about. When I talk to him, I know he can understand what I’m saying.

“There’s been no change in his condition, but he was allowed to go home two months ago. Patrick needs 24-hour care. He’s not going to get better.”

Patrick, a 51-year-old former BBC journalist, lives in Loughborough with his wife and children.

Jez’s tambourine has already been signed by Pete Waterman, Kevin Rowland from Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Neville Staple and Horace Panter from The Specials.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney has also agreed to add his signature to the list.

Jez said: “I used to be a roadie with Dexy’s Midnight Runners back in the 1970s, so when they came to Coventry I arranged to meet up with them again and brought the tambourine.

“When I toured with them, they weren’t particularly well-known, but we’ve been in contact ever since, really.

“The band haven’t been in Coventry since 1980, but Kevin was only too happy to help.”

Jez said he was very grateful for the support he had received so far from the music industry.

He said: “A friend of mine knows Paul McCartney, and he’s agreed to sign it, and help us get more people. I just think it’s a fun idea, and it’s a way to get Patrick a wheelchair and all the other things he needs.”