Haverhill schoolgirl meets fellow cancer survivor and Dire Straits musician

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Haverhill schoolgirl Sorrel Mason met up again with fellow cancer survivor John Illsley when the former Dire Straits bass guitarist brought his rock show to Haverhill Arts Centre last Friday.

The pair first met in 2014 at a reception held in London by the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

Sorrel had acute myeloid leukaemia when she was a baby and was successfully treated in February 2007 with a bone marrow transplant using stem cells from umbilical cord blood. And Illsley, 68, also had stem cell treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in January 2011 thanks to a donation from his sister.

“I didn’t know who John was when I first met him,” said Sorrel, aged 12. “But my father told me that Dire Straits were one of his favourite bands when he was my age.

“It was great to get the chance to see him play live. It was an amazing show. I really enjoyed it.

“Afterwards I met him. He’s also an excellent painter so I showed him a piece of my own artwork.

“He said I was really good for my age. I thought he was a really nice man and very talented.”

Sorrel’s dad Robert Mason said the pair compared notes about their treatment, how long they were in isolation and how they were doing now.

Robert added: “John also told me that one of the songs he played - Railway Tracks - was composed when he was recovering from his bone marrow transplant in an isolation room.

“He said it’s all about how life does not go to plan.”

Dire Straits were formed in 1977 and became one of the most successful British groups of all time, selling over 100 million albums worldwide.

Since they disbanded in 1993 Illsley has released a number of solo albums as well becoming a successful painter.

For further information on the work of Anthony Nolan and how you can help save lives of people with blood cancer, please visit their website: www.anthonynolan.org