X Factor star Sam Bailey got to meet her number one fan who had recently come out of hospital during a flying visit by the singer to Hartlepool.
Sam, who won the ITV show in 2013, was at Hartlepool’s Mecca Bingo on Friday night to perform a four-track show to a packed audience.
But before the singer headed home to Leicester, she had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Gretton, who is disabled and lives in the Raby Road area of Hartlepool.
Ryan, 21, is a regular at the Marina bingo venue and when he heard his idol was heading to town, he wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of the chance to meet her.
He suffers from cerebral palsy, and despite having to wait a year for an operation on both of his legs, he was prepared to cancel surgery if it meant he would miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with Sam.
But after going under the knife on Monday, Ryan was well enough to be discharged from hospital and enjoyed an emotional meeting with Sam backstage.
Ryan said: “I was Sam’s biggest fan from the first audition, and I voted for her all the way through.
“I was over the moon when she won.
“As soon as I heard she was coming to Hartlepool, I was determined not to miss her. I got out of hospital earlier this week and I’m so happy I met her.”
Sam said: “I think Ryan is really brave, it was lovely of him to come down and see me.
“It’s nice that someone loves me that much, but I’m really grateful that Ryan and his family made the effort to get down here.”
Steve Jones, manager of Mecca Hartlepool, said: “Ryan is a familiar face at the club, and as soon as he heard Sam was coming to visit us he was determined to see her.
“Sam was delighted to meet him, and it was nice to see Ryan looking so well so soon after his surgery.”