A CANCER survivor who set up his own charity to help others battling the disease has been honoured by the Prime Minister.
Tony Larkin, 49, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in September 2009.
Determined to raise awareness of the condition, Tony set up MUSICvCANCER in 2010 and raised more than £150,000 since then for cancer equipment.
In recognition of his efforts, Tony has been given a Point of Light award by Prime Minister David Cameron.
So far, MUSICvCANCER has funded two video cystoscopies and an ultrasound scanner for the University Hospital of North Tees to detect early stages of bowel cancer.
Tony is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
MUSICvCANCER, run entirely by volunteers, seeks to raise awareness of cancer symptoms as well as funding cutting edge equipment at North Tees.
Tony has a team of committed volunteers and over 3,000 people have attended their live music sessions.
Tony also raises thousands of pounds selling unique music memorabilia and has received support for MUSICvCANCER from a host of household names including Ed Sheeran and Paolo Nutini.
Kasabian donated a signed guitar which helped raise over £700 for the charity and Jools Holland has got behind the cause becoming a patron last year.
Tony said: “It is an immense honour to receive a Point Of Light award from the Prime Minister today.
“I don’t believe that anyone goes into volunteering for the recognition but when it comes along it’s greatly appreciated.
“I’m proud of what MUSICvCANCER has achieved in a relatively short period considering where this all started – a one off concert in October 2010 to thank the amazing NHS staff and hospitals who helped me on my personal journey to beating bowel cancer.
“Here we are 18 gigs later and with over £152,000 raised solely by a small group of dedicated volunteers – this award tops off a hard but wonderful few years.”
Town MP Iain Wright added: “Tony has reacted to personal adversity and grim news of his own health with outstanding commitment to his community.
“It would be entirely understandable, given Tony’s diagnosis of bowel cancer five years ago, for him to retreat and concentrate on himself.
“However, he was determined to raise awareness through the power and his love of music. Tony has probably saved the lives of people he will never meet by raising awareness of bowel cancer and ensuring early detection and treatment.
“Tony’s work is an inspiration to us all and a humbling reminder of the selfless actions that many people in our country make for others, despite their own personal hardships. “I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has recognised Tony’s worthwhile work by awarding him the Points of Light award.”
Mr Cameron, who sent Tony a personal tweet last night to officially recognise him, said: “It is inspiring that beating his own cancer was not the end of Tony’s battle against the disease.
“Determined to ensure that patients at North Tees have access to the latest medical technology, Tony founded MUSICvCANCER and has raised an incredible amount of money for the hospital.
“I am delighted to name him a Point of Light.”