AS one of only two concert piano tuners across the North-East and Yorkshire, John Phillips worked with some of the world’s biggest singing sensations.

Among the famous names he tuned a piano for through his role as Newcastle City Hall’s tuner were the likes of Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Tom Jones.

In addition to the star names, though, John worked throughout the North-East and built a large customer base throughout the Tyne Valley.

This included working with the Queen’s Hall in Hexham for around 30 years.

Sadly, he died from oesophageal cancer in January but his widow Adele is planning a memorial fund-raiser next week to mark what would have been his 69th birthday.

Mrs Phillips, the chaplain for the courts in Durham and Newcastle who is well-known in Tynedale as she regularly led church servies in Prudhoe, Mickley and Bywell, will have her hair shaved off next Thursday to raise money for the Northern Oesophago Gastric Cancer Fund and awareness of the rare cancer.

She said: “The symptoms of oesophageal cancer are very vague and John was having intermittent indigestion and feeling like he had food stuck in his throat, but he didn’t feel ill so he didn’t think anything of it.

“It wasn’t until he read an article in the Daily Mail about oesophageal cancer that he realised he had the symptoms, so he went to the doctors.

“It has been found that with 70 per cent of people diagnosed, they can’t offer treatment that would lead to a cure and it’s about early detection.

“My main hope is that somebody will read about this in the newspaper like John did and go to see the doctor which could potentially save their life.”

Mrs Phillips will shave her hair off next Thursday as an act of solidarity with those who lose their hair through chemotherapy treatment, as John did.

Anyone wishing to sponsor her can do so by visiting: