By SAMANTHA WOSTEAR
May 14, 2007
WE’RE on the trail of the Greatest Living Briton – and Sun readers have picked the final five.
The winner will be announced at a star-studded ceremony in London next Monday.
Meanwhile, every day this week we are showcasing one of the finalists — Julie Andrews, Paul McCartney, the Queen, Margaret Thatcher and Robbie Williams — with their supporters saying why their hero should win the contest, sponsored by Marks & Spencer.
We begin today with singer Robbie, ex-patron of the charity Jeans For Genes, which funds research into genetic disorders affecting children.
Six-year-old Rhys Evans suffers from a severe immune deficiency and relies on cash from the charity to improve his quality of life.
His mother Marie, a 36-year-old teacher, of Caerphilly, South Wales, says:
There’s a very special reason why Robbie should be voted Greatest Living Briton and it is not just because he writes great pop songs.
His support has helped to give our little boy a future.
Rhys was born in 2000 with a condition called X-SCID, which meant his body couldn’t fight infection.
It’s often called ‘boy in the bubble syndrome’ because that’s sort of how he had to live.
We’ve got photos of him in his bouncing chair in hospital, sat beneath a plastic cover to keep his environment sterile and free from germs.
But even in isolation he still managed to pick up infections and he was so poorly that at times we weren’t sure he would survive.
Robbie did so much to encourage people to take part in Jeans For Genes Day and, in doing so, raised money for life-saving treatment.
He’s made such a difference to our family and thousands of others that the charity helps to support.
With Robbie’s help, Jeans For Genes funded the development of gene therapy at Great Ormond Street Hospital and this is what transformed Rhys’s life.
He was the first child in the country to have the treatment, which re-educated his body and taught it how to create white blood cells.
Rhys is now doing really well at school — something we feared we might never see.
We love to listen to Robbie’s CDs at home, not just because the songs are great but because they remind us of how he’s helped to change our lives.
Courageous Rhys adds: “I’d like to meet Robbie and say hello.
“We went to a fashion show in a big hotel in London where there were lots of famous people showing off their jeans.
“Robbie had given some jeans to the charity that they could sell and raise money to help other children like me.
“I met another little boy who had had the same treatment as me.
“Robbie is the best because he’s helped to make me better and he’s helped lots of other children too — and his songs are great!”
# TO donate to Jeans For Genes call 0800 980 4800 or visit jeansforgenes.com. Greatest Britons 2007 is on ITV1 on Monday, May 21, at 9pm, with viewers voting for their overall favourite.
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