Roger Daltrey makes emotional dedication at final Teenage Cancer Trust as curator

Roger Daltrey has bowed out of his role as curator of the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts after 24 years, as he paid tribute to the “unsung heroes” who have aided the events over the years.

The Who star, 80, launched the fund-raising series in 2000 and has helped raise more than £32m for the cancer charity. He announced in January that this year’s shows would be his last in a curator role.

He performed himself at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 25 March, at a show titled Ovation that celebrated more than two decades’ worth of events.

“Ovation is for all the people who've been there for me unconditionally whenever I've asked them to do something for Teenage Cancer Trust,” he told the audience at the historic London venue. “The backstage crews, people that make the whole thing possible.”

“Twenty-four years ago, I stood on this stage and pointed out what we were trying to achieve. At the time, we needed 25 hospital wards... since then, we've built 28.”

He added: “This is for all the unsung heroes. All the people who have been there for me every year, every time I've asked them to do anything for Teenage Cancer Trust, they have been there.”

Speaking as young people receiving cancer treatment joined him on stage, Daltrey said that the concert was a moment they would remember “every day of their life... they’ll never forget this sight.”

Roger Daltrey has stepped down from his role as Teenage Cancer Trust curator (Getty Images for The Who)
Roger Daltrey has stepped down from his role as Teenage Cancer Trust curator (Getty Images for The Who)

Other artists to perform on Sunday night included Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones, The Who’s Pete Townshend, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Robert Plant with Saving Grace, and Paul Weller.

Opening his performance, Jones explained that Stereophonics’ hit single “Local Boy in the Photograph” was a song “about a teenager who didn’t make it when I was a kid”.

“I wrote this when I was a teenager and it was our first single,” the Welsh musician said, later telling audience members that “You’re My Star” was about “my own cancer story with my own kid”.

The Teenage Cancer Trust has said it plans on working with a series of guest curators next year, after Daltrey steps down. While the rock legend said he isn’t going away from the TCT, and will continue to serve the charity as an honorary patron, he has “completed the job” he “set out to do”.

Daltrey with Ed Sheeran at a Teenage Cancer Trust event (PA Wire)
Daltrey with Ed Sheeran at a Teenage Cancer Trust event (PA Wire)

“The generosity of the people who work in the music and comedy industries never ceases to amaze me,” he said. “In this, our 21st year, after two years of artists having no shows at all, at a time where the only certain paydays are from live performances, artists are willing to give up their earnings from a London show.

“It shows us that miracles are everywhere, but if you cough or sneeze you'd miss them.”

Katie Collins, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “These amazing gigs and their fantastic line-ups help us change lives.

“Because of Roger, the artists, the teams who make these gigs possible and everyone who buys a ticket, we can make sure young people don't face cancer alone and continue to provide the vital, expert care and support that is crucial for young people with cancer.”

In a recent interview, Daltrey called on the NHS to cut the salaries of its top executives, as he hit out at the state of the public-funded health service and said his generation is to blame for the crisis.

“I’m in the way,” the 79-year-old said in an interview with The Times. “All us old farts, we really are just in the way of the young now, aren’t we?”

Speaking at a cancer ward at Southampton General Hospital, Daltrey questioned why NHS executives needed “£400,000 or £500,000 a year of public money”.

“More than 50 per cent of the NHS budget isn’t spent here on wards,” he said. “I’ll tell you how to pay the nurses more: cut down on executive pay.”

He continued: “That’s my opinion. I’ll get slaughtered for saying it, but you’ve got to be tough. They [the political parties] make the NHS this political football in elections. They’re using us and it needs to stop.”

Additional reporting by Press Association