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Gillings gets an offer he couldn't refuse




Peter Gillings with some ballet shoes Ruthie Henshall gave him when he went to her opening nights.
Peter Gillings with some ballet shoes Ruthie Henshall gave him when he went to her opening nights.

A Diss businessman has received an offer he could not refuse.

Peter Gillings, who runs Gillings of Diss junk yard, was sitting at his desk when a message popped up on his phone saying: “Allo mate, I’ve been thinking about you.

“I know this is a strange conversation to be having, but you have meant a lot to me in my life.

“If there’s anything I can ever do ... If you wanted me to sing at your passing out ceremony, just let me know. Xxx”

The message was from none other than multi-award-winning singer Ruthie Henshall, whose career has seen her star in the most popular musicals of the past 30 years, including Cats, Miss Saigon, Crazy For You, Les Misérables and Billy Elliot.

She has also enjoyed success in plays, in concert and on television and is currently playing Mama Morton in Chicago in the West End.

Ruthie Henshall
Ruthie Henshall

Mr Gillings, also known as Mr Diss, has been living with cancer for the last three-and-a-half years.

“I dated her sister Abi, when I was a bit younger, and we would go to all her shows, often on the opening nights, and then on to clubs like The Groucho,” said Peter, 69.

“It was a bit of a shock really as I never knew I had any influence over her growing up.

“We were all friends, although she was a lot younger than me. It’s nice to know she still remembers me.”

Peter Gillings, known as P.G, is now waiting to hear about another round of chemotherapy in Norwich after specialists at the Royal Marsden said they could do no more.

“It took me three years to get in and I lasted three minutes,” he said.

“They said ‘You’re gone mate. You are too far gone for us’.

“Ruthie said it would be a total honour to sing at my funeral. It means a lot.”



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