An Opera singer who survived two brain tumours has become the first musician to have an unreleased charity single written into his will.
Russell Watson has written an exclusive song for Worldwide Cancer Research to be released posthumously to help fund ‘pioneering work’ into new cures.
The Salford-born classical singer, 56, is leaving it as a gift for the UK-based charity to help others ‘overcome a life-threatening diagnosis’ just like he did.
The tenor – who was fifth to leave the Castle in the 2020 series of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here – has performed for the likes of the Queen, Pope John Paul II and two US presidents.
Mr Watson was told he had a brain tumour the size of two golf balls in 2006 after his peripheral vision became blurry.
Russell Watson (pictured) has written an exclusive song for Worldwide Cancer Research to be released posthumously to help fund ‘pioneering work’ into new cures
The Salford-born classical singer, 56, is leaving it as a gift for the UK-based charity to help others ‘overcome a life-threatening diagnosis’ just like he did
Pictured: The opera star after his second surgery with children Hannah, then 8, and Rebecca, then 13, in October 2007
Following a trip to LA, he underwent a five-hour emergency operation to remove the eight-centimetre tumour at St George’s Hospital in Tooting – before overcoming a second diagnosis a year later.
Just over a year later in October 2007, the classical singer’s vision deteriorated as his tumour returned on his pituitary gland, which was bleeding into his brain.
Days after his MRI scan, Russell underwent another emergency procedure in Cheadle’s Alexandra Hospital, and later recovered with an extensive rehabilitation programme.
He said: ‘My diagnosis changed everything – all I could think about was how my wife and daughters would survive without me.
‘It was difficult to see beyond my illness at the time, but to be alive and healthy 15 years later is something I’m eternally grateful for.
‘Often when we are writing wills we think about those closest to us. But a will, much like a piece of music, has the power to touch the lives of so many more.
‘I want others to receive the kind of life-saving treatment that I did, to give that gift of time for which I’m so grateful every day.’
Spending a rare birthday away from his family while on I’m a Celebrity, the singer woke to his campmates singing to him.
The tenor – who was the fifth celebrity to leave the Castle in the 2020 series of I’m a Celebrity – has performed for the likes of the Queen, Pope John Paul II and two US presidents
Mr Watson says that after his diagnosis all he could think about was how his wife and daughters would survive without him. Pictured: With wife Louise (right) in 2018
Mr Watson has performed charity singles before – including for The Prince’s trust and Soccer Aid.
And the star act – whose debut album The Voice held the number one spot on the UK charts for a record 52 weeks – has also sung alongside Paul McCartney, Meatloaf, Sean Ryder and even Luciano Pavarotti.
But speaking about the never-been-heard song, Watson added: ‘Leaving this track in my will to support the pioneering work for new cancer cures is hopefully a powerful reminder of the legacy we can all leave behind.’
Watson’s release, billed as a ‘compilation of his most-loved songs’, was created to remove the taboo around post-life planning and shine a light on how leaving a will ‘can touch the lives of others’.
Helen Rippon, chief executive of the charity Worldwide Cancer Research, said: ‘Discussion around post-life planning can be uncomfortable, but with roughly half of Brits without a written will, it is important we spread the message about how important it is to plan for when that day comes.
‘We understand that people want to put their family and friends first when thinking about writing a will, and our free service offers you support with making that decision.
‘It can be a really daunting task, and we want to make it as simple as possible for our community of curestarters.
‘You don’t have to include a gift to Worldwide Cancer Research in your will in return, but of course we’d be extremely grateful if you did.
‘We’re hugely inspired by Russell’s story and are delighted to receive such an incredible gift from him to shine a light on our charity, and hopefully bring us closer to a day when no life is cut short by cancer.’
Worldwide Cancer Research funds discovery research with the mission to stop cancer.