Young artist Jake Smith was stunned when he met music legend Elton John.
The surprise invitation came after the 21-year-old was featured in last week’s Falkirk Herald with a painting of the star that he had completed.
Jake hoped for an opportunity to have his artwork signed – but never believed that he would be invited backstage to meet Sir Elton.
Now he plans to put the painting up for auction with the proceeds going to Yorkhill Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.
Much of his childhood was spent as an inpatient on its wards because of a rare condition that was diagnosed when he was five.
Jake has multiple aneurysms – bulges in the walls of blood vessels – which occur all over his body. To date he has suffered 69 but lives with the knowledge that the next one could be fatal.
He has had countless operations, including on his brain, kidneys and aortic valves, after being diagnosed by an eagle-eyed consultant at Yorkhill.
Although painting is currently a hobby, he hopes to eventually make it his career.
After being featured in last week’s edition of Scotland’s biggest selling weekly newspaper, officials at Falkirk FC got in touch to see how they could help Jake meet his idol.
After liaising with promoters Marshall Arts, the meeting was set up and Jake invited to be a VIP guest.
Speaking from his Hallglen home this week, he said: “It was a surreal experience. I still can’t believe it happened. It was just crazy.”
The superstar was impressed with the painting, signing it with the message: “Dear Jake, This is fab. Elton.”
He later gave him a name check from the stage during the concert.
Thanking The Falkirk Herald, Jake revealed that Sunday’s concert could also lead to the chance to paint another vocalist he considers to be inspirational
He added: “We were waiting to see Sir Elton when Susan Boyle came into the stadium. She was chatting away and I told her that I was keen to paint her. She gave me a business card so hopefully that will come off.
“It was just fantastic and I can’t believe that Elton signed my painting and gave me a mention.”
Jake was accompanied by mum Margaret (54), sister Becca (17) and best friend Dale Stewart.
Margaret revealed that the family had given up hope of getting to meet the star when the call came in at 11.30 a.m. on Sunday.
She said: “It was the promoter and he said that it all had been arranged with four tickets left at the box office for us. There was a mad dash to get ready and get down to the stadium.
“When we were shown into his dressing room it was difficult to believe it was actually happening. He shook our hands and then asked to see the painting which he was really impressed with. Then he posed for photographs before we went out and took our seats.
“I saw him about 20 years ago at Ibrox when he appeared with Billy Joel but I never thought that one day I would actually meet him. It was just amazing.”