MND diagnosis prompts friends to join forces and send Elvis fan on dream trip to Graceland

Stuart (middle) with friends at Graceland
Stuart (middle) with friends at Graceland

When Worksop man Stuart Thackery received a devastating diagnosis, his friends and family joined forces to help the Elvis fan smile again by sending him on the trip of a lifetime.

The King fan, who was diagnosed with Motor Nuerone Disease in April last year, said he was ‘in tears’ after being surprised with the news that he would soon be jetting off to visit the former mansion of his idol in Graceland, America.

Stuart (left) living the dream in Graceland

Stuart (left) living the dream in Graceland

This was made possible by a secret fundraiser undertaken by Stuart’s friends and family who tackled a gruelling 13 mile sponsored walk along the Chesterfield canal, raising just over £4,000 for the trip.

Joined by his nephew, brother-in-law and four of his closest friends, Stuart embarked on a week-long trip across Memphis and New Orleans in March.

The group even became the star attraction when they all dressed up as Elvis himself and were asked to pose for photographs by delighted tourists.

Stuart said: “I had absolutely no idea what my friends were planning, and when they surprised me with it all I was in tears.

“It began earlier this year when my girlfriend, Sally, woke me up one morning and told me she wanted to go for breakfast at the Cannon pub. I was tired and not really bothered, but she insisted that we go.

“I walked into the pub and there were about 60 members of my family and friends there, all of them had took part in the walk to raise money. I was so moved by what they had done for me that I just broke down.

“Memphis was even more than I imagined,” Stuart went on. “I had the time of my life. We thought that everyone there would be dressed up as Elvis, but were surprised to see we were the only ones.

“This didn’t matter however, as just about every tourist we bumped into wanted a picture with us. I grew up listening to Elvis and have always been a huge fan of his, so it was an experience that I will treasure.”

Stuart would like to thank everyone involved in the fundraiser, particularly his colleague John Gore and best friend Gareth Rolles who organised the event.