A fundraiser called Wally sang to a widow named Dolly to stop lift her spirits on her first birthday without her husband.

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Fred Bell had been a keen member of operatic societies in Sidmouth and Exeter, and his family wanted to make his wife Dorothy’s 90th birthday special.

Their daughter, Gill White, hoped to mark the occasion by having someone from one of the societies to sing to her mother - and the obvious song was ‘Hello Dolly’.

Gill spoke to Sidmouth Operatic Society’s former chairman, Selwyn Kussman, who recommended 73-year-old Wally Cotgrave.

The singer was won over by the story and battled last week’s severe weather to reach the lunch at the Belmont Hotel.

Gill said: “Wally did a superb job and it really made her day really special, because although Dad couldn’t be there it brought back some lovely memories.”

She added: “We were so thrilled with his performance and wish him all the very best for the future.”

Retired blacksmith Wally, of Winslade Road, has raised more than £18,000 for Help for Heroes, so he obliged to help the family of a supporter of another soldiers’ cause. Fred had been a fundraiser for charity Combat Stress, having suffered as a Japanese prisoner of war.

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