LEAVING a life-support machine behind, 73-year-old Val Clements relished the chance to meet her idol Olly Murs at Portsmouth Guildhall.
The unstoppable great-grandmother was determined to chat to the X Factor finalist backstage at yesterday’s show, and refused to let a lung disease which almost proved fatal last year stop her.
With four hours’ worth of oxygen in a portable tank, the community worker and founder of Portsmouth’s John Pounds Centre bravely left her home in Oldbury House, in Southsea, to attend the concert.
Val was surprised with tickets to Thursday’s show by her granddaughter Caroline, and after meeting Olly she said the young popstar was ‘a true gentleman, exactly as I imagined him’.
‘The first time I saw him on TV I knew he was going to be special,’ she said.
‘He’s a natural performer and an incredibly talented young man, I love him to bits. So when Caroline told me I was coming to the concert I knew this was my only chance to meet him.
‘These days I can’t do much of anything any more, but I still have a few tricks left up my sleeve.’ Presenting Olly with an HMS Victory pocket watch, Val told him: ‘When you’re old and grey, you can look at that and think “a crazy old woman from Portsmouth gave me this” and remember coming here.’
Boasting six children and 28 grandchildren, Val suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was rushed into Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, four times in the last 12 months.
After he met her, Olly told The News: ‘Putting a smile on her face was one of the best moments of my career. The dedication of fans like Val just blows my mind.’