Willie Thorne’s former wife is auctioning off the late Leicester snooker star’s “one and only” cue to help people suffering with head and neck cancer.
The money raised by Jill Saxby – who shared a home with the popular TV personality, sports commentator and BBC pundit in Broughton Astley – will go to the 20-20 Voice Cancer charity.
The former Miss Great Britain beauty queen became a patron of the Leicester-based charity following the death of Anstey-born Willie, who was also a patron, on June 17, this year.
His trusty cue served him well over a career that saw him become one of the first players to compile 100 century breaks.
“Willie played all his life with his one and only cue, from the age of 14,” said Jill.
“His cue and case is up for auction to raise funds for his charity of choice – 20-20 Voice Cancer.”
She added: “Money raised will help early diagnosis of this little known cancer, that affects so many.”
An opening bid of £2,000 has been made for the cue.
Favourite – Willie’s cue was a 14th birthday present
(Image: Jill Saxby)
Willie, who lived in Villamartin, Spain on the Costa Blanca south, died, aged 66, from septic shock in Torrevieja Hospital, after receiving chemotherapy treatment for leukaemia.
He moved to Villamartin last year with Jill, where he tutored snooker and also put on exhibitions.
Following his death, former Leicester City and England footballer and fellow BBC sports pundit Gary Lineker was among those who paid tribute.
Following his death a Memorial service was held in Orihuela Costa on June 24, attended by his children, daughter Tahli and twin sons Tristan and Kieran, at the Cristo Resucitado Church. His ashes were later flown to the UK.
Lasting legacy – Jill Saxby (pictured) was married to the Leicester snooker legend for several years and has followed in his footsteps as a patron of 20-20 Voice Cancer.
(Image: Sunday Mirror)
A spokesperson for 20-20 Voice Cancer said: “We are delighted that Jill has decided to favour our charity for she knows only too well the depths of despair that cancer can bring, having been a full time SLT (Speech & Language Therapist).
“Sadly, Willie passed away this year and Jill kindly took over as Patron.”
Since his death, Jill has organised a tournament at the Dunstable Snooker Club, the Willie Thorne Memorial Trophy, with proceeds going to 20-20 Voice Cancer, Willie’s favoured charity.
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“The cue was Willie’s fourteenth birthday present and the case was specially made later,” she said. “He played every time with the same cue – winning the first Seniors Masters tournament final against Cliff Thorburn at the private member’s RAC Club in London.
“Willie also won the Mercantile Credit back in 1985 with the cue. And played with it at the World Championship at The Crucible in Sheffield over the years.
“He took it everywhere – the cue has travelled all over the world.”
Final farewell – Willie Thorne’s funeral, in Spain earlier this year, featured snooker table flowers and a Chas n Dave anthem
(Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
Jill added: “The founder of 20-20 Voice Cancer, Phil Johnson, knew Willie for 45 years.
“Phil would go to all the live matches that Willie played in during his career.
“Phil eventually became ill and had a laryngectomy and he now runs 20-20 Voice Cancer.”
Bids for Willie Thorne’s cue and case can be sent to either: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org