A singing duo from Whitby have come back stronger than ever after battling a disease that almost ended their career.
Pam Wett and Rory Wilde, aka Wett ‘n Wilde, have been performing side by side since they first met in Spain almost 30 years ago.
People in town will know them for their performances at the Royal Hotel, but further afield the pair gained fame for their appearance on TV’s The Voice in February 2016.
“On the day of the audition Pam was ill and had to be taken to hospital,” said Rory, 78.
“We must have made an impression though because they told us to come back on the last day.”
The duo earned great praise for their rendition of Up Where We Belong, by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, but four months after their TV success Rory was diagnosed with throat cancer. The news, said Pam, 72, “knocked us for six”.
“I went to the doctor because I had a bad knee from playing tennis,” said Rory, “and because I had a nasty cough the doctor sent me to hospital because he thought it might be cancer’.
“It threw me completely because I never smoked in my life, I never drank in my life, I was an ex-footballer, as far as I knew I was as fit as a fiddle.”
Without treatment Rory was told he would only have six months to live, so his only option was to start a six-week spell of radiotherapy at James Cook’s Head and Neck unit.
But the intensive treatment didn’t keep him away from the stage.
Although he couldn’t talk and had to be fed through a tube inserted into his stomach, Rory continued working, accompanying Pam with his guitar.
Thanks to his early diagnosis, which meant he didn’t require any surgery, Rory was given the all clear in February 2017 and went back to doing what he loves the most.
Singing now is not just a job but a tool through which the duo have decided to “give something back”.
Every year the pair put on a charity show in aid of to the hospital unit that saved Rory’s life.
“The care I received was unbelievable.
“The first time we did it we raised £3,500 so we thought if we have the chance to raise that kind of money let’s just do it every year and this year we should hit the £10,000 target.
“It’s hard work because there’s no-one really marketing the event and it’s hard to get people to work for free but it’s a cracking show and every penny goes to the Head and Neck unit at Middlesbrough.”
This year’s Grand Charity Show, which will take place on October 6 at the Whitby Pavilion, features performances from guest artists and of course, Wett ‘n Wilde.
A consultant from James Cook Hospital will also attend to raise awareness of the condition.
“Apart from a little lump on the neck, Rory had a bit of bad breath and his tongue was very yellow,” said Pam.
“Nobody walking about knows what to look out for, that’s why we’re doing the show. It’s all about awareness.”
Rory added: “The way I see it is I’ve been through what I’ve been through and I’m back to almost being normal. I’m playing tennis, I’m still working, still singing. My voice is not 100% yet but I’m getting pretty close to it.”