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Auf Wiedersehen Pet star sings to help Hetton stage actor walk again

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A HETTON band has teamed up with actor Tim Healy in a bid to help a local stage star to walk again.

The theatre world was left devastated when popular actor David Whitaker, from Hetton, suffered a severe stroke while on stage in London’s West End.

The 61-year-old has been left immobile and unable to communicate by the attack which happened in 2012 and now requires round-the-clock care at a care home in Chilton Moor.

But his friends and family, including nephew David Smith from band Dennis, are determined to see him regain some of his abilities once more.

Dennis, a Hetton band who blend folk, pop music with a colliery brass band sound, have recorded a song with Tim Healy and other actors who are friends with David.

Proceeds from the single, entitled Third Time Around, will be donated to pay for therapy, not funded by the NHS, which could hold the key to David having some quality of life and independence.

Nephew David, a guitarist in eight-piece Dennis, said: “This is part of on-going fund-raising that is taking place for him, our aim is to see him walk out of that care home.

“He’s already has some sessions which look at different ways to get the brain to formulate speech and to write.

“They’ve already been able to get him to formulate some letters so he is steadily making progress.” Before the stroke, David had established himself as a well-known actor and was a founding member of Live Theatre in Newcastle.

He has made numerous TV, radio and stage appearances across the UK and in New York, including starring in The Pitmen Painters on Broadway.

Third Time Around will be launched with a special event at Live Theatre.

David Smith, 30, said: “It’s an upbeat song which we did deliberately to reflect the spirit of David.

“There will be lots going on at the launch and David’s family will be baking cakes to sell on the day to raise more funds.”

Dennis are a band whose music is inspired by the members’ heritage of brass bands and working mens’ clubs.

Their debut EP, Colliery Welfare, received national acclaim.

l For tickets, priced £7, to the launch of Third Time Around visit www.live.org.uk/whats-on-book/david-whitaker-fundraiser.

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