Bass player becomes a life saver

15/02/2011'Absent Tam bassist and bone marrow donator Ray Quigley
15/02/2011'Absent Tam bassist and bone marrow donator Ray Quigley
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A MUSICIAN waited 17 years for the chance to donate bone marrow ... now he’s sending a big musical thank you to the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Ray Quigley (46), of Nelson Street, Grangemouth, has been playing bass for local rockers Absent Tam for four years, but his association with the Trust, a charity that finds matches for leukaemia patients who need lifesaving transplants, goes back to the early 1990s when he watched a television appeal featuring Bob Hoskins.

“I joined the donors register soon after that,” said Ray. “I was tested twice over the years, but was not asked to donate bone marrow - you have to be a perfect match.”

Ray was tested again last January and found to be a match for a young girl in urgent need of a transplant. In November he travelled to London with wife Alison (45) to donate his bone marrow and give the girl a fighting chance at life.

As if going through a 40-minute procedure to have cells removed from his pelvic bone was not enough, now Ray and Absent Tam - along with good pals Lieutenant Stardust - are playing a fundraising gig for the Trust at Grangemouth’s Oswald Avenue Day Centre, on Friday, February 25.

Modest Ray sees it as a way of paying the charity back what he owes.

“The Trust paid for the flights, taxis - all our expenses. I just felt I should pay them back for that at least and maybe raise a bit more besides.”

Absent Tam, which also features Jen Bell (vocals), Alan Penman (guitar), Dougie Cowan (guitar), and Tam Boyle (drums), have played their rock and punk covers at various venues over the last few years including a couple of charity gigs - but the February 25 concert is special for Ray.

“As well as cash, I hope it raises awareness of the Anthony Nolan Trust and the need for more donors,” he said.

It may have taken a long time for Ray to make his own donation, but he believes it was well worth the wait.

“You would get letters from the Trust every so often saying you were still on the register. I met someone down in London who had only been on the register for six months before he was matched to give a donation.

“My wife and I went down on a Tuesday and I went through the procedure on Wednesday. I had no pain whatsoever, but I did feel a bit weak for a while afterwards. It’s actually a very humbling experience - when I was there I saw other patients waiting for transplants. It makes you realise how lucky you are.”

Though he does not know the person who received his bone marrow, Ray got a heartwarming letter from the girl’s parents saying she was doing well and thanking him. He will receive updates on her progress from the Trust every few months. Ray said: “I would encourage other people to sign up. You can give someone a chance at life.”

Tickets for the Absent Tam/Lieutenant Stardust gig cost £6, including a buffet, and are available from band members - e-mail to book or call Ray on 07910842550.

The fun starts at 7 p.m.

For more information on the Anthony Nolan Trust and becoming a bone marrow donor visit www.anthonynolan.rog or call 0303 303 0303.