A POPULAR Tiverton busker who raised thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support has taken a break from singing to undergo treatment for cancer himself.
Great-grandfather Mervyn Gratton entertained scores of passers-by in the town centre for years while raising more than £6,000 for the charity.
But he hung up his microphone just before Christmas after receiving the devastating news that he had prostate cancer.
Mervyn, 67, who lives in Sidmouth, underwent keyhole surgery to remove his prostate and is now poised to begin a 33-day course of radiotherapy.
“It certainly took a while to sink in,” said the retired delivery lorry driver.
“You just do not know what is around the corner in life.”
Having always had a good singing voice, Mervyn decided to use his talents to begin fundraising for the charity in November 2010 after his wife successfully battled breast cancer.
He performed five three-hour sets on the streets of Tiverton, Honiton, Sidmouth, Exmouth and Exeter every month – netting a grand total of £6,215 for Macmillan in the process.
His back catalogue includes hits by Elvis and Neil Diamond, as well as a few modern songs by the likes of Snow Patrol and The Killers.
He hopes to re-claim his stage on the high street in June, after his final course of radiotherapy on May 31.
“Since I’ve been having treatment I’ve leant a few more songs and I now have a repertoire of around 80,” added Mervyn, who was born and raised in Tiverton.
“I feel fine in myself and have been going out for two mile walks every day.
“The people of Tiverton have been so good to me since I started singing there.
“You’d think they would be fed up with me after two years but they’re not.
“I can’t wait to get back out there.”