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Action Against Cancer Ambassadors Julian and Cat O'Dell's live music fundraiser event Catfest has been a huge success over the past few years and has raised over £160,000 so far. Sadly it has fallen victim to Covid and the 2020 and 2021 Catfests had to be postponed.

To compensate for being unable to raise funds at Catfest, Julian embarked upon an ambitious fundraising project called 100+ Hitmakers Against Cancer which involves him getting a series of guitars signed by the great and the good of the music industry – www.hitmakersagainstcancer.co.uk

It all started with a guitar being donated to the O'Dells by a friend that he proposed might be auctioned at Catfest and somebody suggested getting it signed to maximise the value.

Julian explains "Our first agreed signing was Brian May, as a business contact of mine knew somebody who worked for him. Once we had secured his signature, it allowed us to use his name and involvement to bring others on board."

Other guitars have been donated and there are now more than 20 which will be up for grabs.

Julian continues "The project has been a labour of love as I have driven the length and breadth of the country and met the most wonderfully supportive folk from the music world who have spared a few minutes of their valuable time to meet and sign one of our series of guitars. We have reached our initial target of 100 signings and will carry on for as long as we can. We are so grateful to the likes of Mel C, Lulu, Petula Clark, Gary Numan, Craig David, Stereophonics, Glen Matlock, Jason Donovan, Ronan Keating, Paul Young, Suzi Quatro and others. I was even lucky enough to be invited to attend the 2019 Jools Holland Hootenanny and got a guitar signed by the event’s performers like Rick Astley, Selecter and Jools himself. I have been privileged to be invited to many stars’ homes and to see their gold discs and awards. I suggested to one or two that they should have charged me admission!"

Some of the signings have been great fun – I had an hour over coffee with Nick Heyward and Carol Decker, talking soup recipes amongst other things. A lovely visit to ELO drummer Bev Bevan's home, where we chatted about 1970's football and the state of the live music industry. Bev, like many of our supporters, has lost some dear friends to cancer.

All the guitars will be auctioned and every penny will go to Action Against Cancer – some are already up for grabs at 100+ Hitmakers Against Cancer! (jumblebee.co.uk) and the prices are sure to rise in coming weeks.

"These guitars are an amazing investment for a music fan" says Julian. "The 60's number 1 special guitars, for example, represent a unique opportunity to have the signatures of chart toppers from the golden decade all on one item. I doubt there is anything similar anywhere in the world."

And Julian's favourite signings? "Dave Hill of Slade was great company – we laughed a lot. Trevor Horn was so kind, insisting on donating one of his own bass guitars for the cause. I shared a few beers with Spizz Energi before we wandered down to the BBC to meet Tom Robinson who was charming and having signed the guitar, played us an impromptu version of "War Baby" – a magic moment. Spizz has invited me onto his radio show twice as a guest and allowed me to wax lyrical about the project, which was amazing. I was starstruck on the occasion I met Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash – two true gents and members of one of my favourite bands of all time. Mick gave me a copy of the 40th anniversary reissue of "London Calling" which I will treasure forever."

Cat, who has been living with the disease herself for 11 years, says "As cancer patients, we all need hope. Research for cures or better treatment gives us that hope. Julian has worked really hard on this project, driving hundreds and hundreds of miles to get the signatures. Here's hoping that all that effort translates into a lot of money for Action Against Cancer."

If you can help introduce anyone who might agree to sign, Julian and Cat can be reached on julianodell@live.co.uk. In the meantime, please spread the word and try and help attract as many potential bidders as possible!

For the latest updates, please check the project Facebook page here.

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