SCHOOLBOY Dan Squires last night told how being diagnosed with terminal cancer last November sparked a bid to cram a lifetime of incredible memories into just seven months.
The 16-year-old, from Jarrow, South Tyneside, lost a leg to bone cancer in December 2006. But less than a year later, he was told nothing more could be done to save him.
Since then, his friends and family – and an unlikely rock star – have helped a teenager’s dreams come true.
Music lover Dan has met, and struck up an unlikely friendship with, controversial rock star Pete Doherty after being invited to one of his Babyshambles gigs.
He has also met Oasis star Noel Gallagher, helped write a song for a performance at the Royal Albert Hall, gone clubbing for the first time, fulfilled a dream to go to Amsterdam, met the Newcastle United team and was the director’s assistant at a gig at The Sage Gateshead, where he met The Who frontman Roger Daltrey..
Surrounded by his family last night at home in Hazel Street, the Hebburn Comprehensive pupil said: “My goal at the minute is just to keep active and spend as much time with my friends and family as possible, and build as many special memories as I can for myself and everybody.
“I’ve been given some amazing opportunities and have met some of the nicest people I’ve met in my life, including some of my best friends.
“I’ve been given the chance to meet loads of celebrities and was even the director’s assistant at the Teenage Cancer Trust’s flagship event, Bandstand, at The Sage Gateshead last September.
“Pete and the band have just been absolutely amazing and hopefully I will be able to stay well enough to see them play again.
“They have given me the goal to stay well. They’ve given me hope and something to look forward to.”
Dan was about to begin his sports coaching qualifications, after his local community raised £20,000 for an artificial leg, when he was given the devastating news last November that he was unlikely to live long enough to qualify.
He said: “It just felt as though an 18-month-long battle had been a complete waste of time. But then you think during that time that you’ve got time to enjoy yourself and time to prepare. Some people get diagnosed and only have a few days or weeks.”
Dan set about enjoying his life by doing the things he had always wanted to do, and his list included seeing Babyshambles play and meeting the band, who invited him to a gig in London.
He said: “I only expected a meet and greet but I got my own dressing room, watched the whole gig from the stage, hung out with the band afterwards and then got taken to the after-show party. It was incredible what they did because they didn’t need to do that.”
Dan, who suffered a stroke last month and is now confined to a wheelchair after becoming paralysed down his left side, is in regular contact with the band and only on Thursday at the band’s gig in Brixton, exchanged personal gifts.
He said: “I took them each a friendship bracelet for what they’ve done for me and Pete just took off the bracelet he was wearing and gave it to me.
“He had also brought a book and signed the inside cover with a special message. It’s just lovely. I couldn’t believe it. I feel very privileged.”
Doherty dedicated a recent performance to Dan, and the band has pledged to help him raise more funds for the charity he is an ambassador for, the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT).
The bad boys who really came good for greatest fan
THE manager of so-called rock ‘bad boys’ Babyshambles, Adrian Hunter, last night paid tribute to battling teenager Dan.
He said: “All of us have just been incredibly inspired by the Squires family’s stoicism and Dan’s bravery, and how well he is dealing with the card that life has dealt him.”
Dan’s mother Rebecca, 36, said yesterday: “The band called Dan as soon as they heard about the stroke he had and told him to keep his chin up. It was worth a million pounds to see the smile on his face.”
A spokeswoman for the TCT said: “Teenage Cancer Trust has seen on a number of occasions how musicians can really have a positive impact on young people going through a hard time.
“Babyshambles have really helped Daniel through this very difficult period and have been such an inspiration to him.
“We’re grateful to Babyshambles for deciding to donate to us through their guest lists and grateful also to the Cato Trust.
“Funds raised will go towards supporting our new unit at the RVI in Newcastle to treat young people with cancer in the North East.”
The family, including Dan’s father Mark, 36, who lives in South Yorkshire, shared an important moment last December when they travelled to France for a holiday.
Mother Rebecca added: “It was very special. The time we have now is all about building memories for all of us.”
DAN now faces the difficult job of preparing his younger sister Lois, 15, and brother Jack, seven, for the day he is no longer with them.
He said: “I’ve got Jack a build-your-own teddy and a few surprises lined up for both of them. I’m also about to start writing letters for my friends and family to read afterwards, which I’ll do when my arm gets a bit better because I can’t write too well at the moment.”
He is also hoping to be able to help Babyshambles out in the recording studio as they write and record a song.
He said: “I’ve done little bits of production and helped out with the Bandstand show last year as well as helped write a song through the TCT, so I’m really hoping to be able to do that with the band. And I’d love to see them play again and meet up again soon.”
Dan’s oncologists have been unable to predict how much longer he may have with his family but he is determined to live each day to the full.
He added: “I just want to enjoy the good days and try to get through the bad days as best I can with my family.”