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DOIN' IT FOR THE KIDS; Pop hero Robbie joins bone marrow register to help leukaemia sufferers.

Byline: HELEN COOK

ROCK star Robbie Williams last night called on Scots to join him in the battle to save leukaemia victims.

The multi-millionaire heartthrob had promised pretty 23-year-old Scots victim Johanna MacVicar that he would sign up as a bone-marrow donor.

And, after performing at his sell-out concerts at Hampden Stadium, Robbie honoured that pledge by giving blood so he could be tested as a donor.

He said: "I've made the commitment that could save someone's life. I want all of you out there to do the same."

Johanna was first diagnosed with leukaemia when she was 16. Now her life depends on successful bone marrow transplant.

Since being diagnosed, she has battled to boost the numbers of donors across Britain by raising the profile of The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust.

And after meeting the cheeky star backstage after a previous concert - as revealed by the Mirror in November last year - Johanna convinced Robbie to get involved.

She said: "Robbie was absolutely delighted to help."

Johanna has now become the envy of thousands of adoring Robbie fans by becoming best buddies with the charmer.

They keep in close contact and, as the media clamoured to get close to Robbie, only Johanna, of Bishopton, Renfrewshire, was allowed into his suite at Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond.

Despite the hustle and bustle of Robbie's entourage the two pals spent more than an hour together.

Johanna said: "He's been so busy recently I hadn't had the chance to tell him about going to Bristol for my check-ups and the good news about my bone marrow results coming back negative.

"He was really pleased for me - he gave me a big hug."

Johanna's dad, Donnie, 47, who is a nurse, also got the chance to meet Robbie and took a blood sample - Robbie's first step to joining the bone marrow register.

Johanna said: "My mum Angela has met Robbie loads of times, but it was the first time my dad had come with us.

"They just talked about football - I couldn't get a word in!"

Johanna and Robbie keep in touch with a phone call once a week. She said: "It was great to see him again - he was fantastic, just as friendly and chatty as ever. And he's genuinely interested in how I've been getting on, which is really nice.

"I never feel as if I am in the way - he always makes me feel welcome."

Last November when Robbie first agreed to help, Johanna said his involvement was "beyond her wildest dreams".

She said: "There is a desperate shortage of young male donors - like Robbie.

"About 70 per cent of those on the register are women, yet it has been proved that young, fit men can make better donors, increasing the chance of survival.

"I want those young guys who haven't thought about this to take notice of what Robbie Williams has to say. If it just saves one life, it will be worth all the effort."

To find out how to join the register or make a credit card donation, call The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust hotline on 0901 88 22 234 or visit www.anthonynolan.org.uk

CAPTION(S):

ROBBIE THE BRAVE: Johanna comforts Robbie as her dad Donnie takes blood for testing for the register; FRIENDS: Robbie and Johanna
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2001
Words:553
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