A CHARITY night to help sufferers of a rare condition organised by a North-East couple has won the backing of a world famous British actor.

Former steel fabricator Alan Nattress, 73, from County Durham, was diagnosed with amyloidosis in 2007, and receives specialist treatment at the National Amyloidosis Centre, at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

His disease is caused by deposits of abnormal protein, called amyloid, which start in his liver and attack his heart, leaving him suffering from severe fatigue.

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His wife, Irene, 68, wrote to Michael York, star of The Three Musketeers, who is a patron of the centre, informing him of their forthcoming fundraising dinner.

The 72-year-old star, who also suffers from a form of the disease, wrote back and said: “With all the new drugs and modalities coming into use, I think we patients can afford to be cautiously optimistic.

“I wish you great success with your October fund-raising event. If I can contribute in any way, please let me know.”

The Nattress family are holding a charity dinner at the Derwent Manor Hotel, near Consett, from 7pm on October 10, and the money raised will go towards a new scanner at the centre.

Mrs Nattress said: “They have been really good and really looked after Alan so we just wanted to do something to say ‘thank you’.

“We did not expect to hear back from Michael York but it was nice of him to take the time to write. We hope people will support us.”

Amyloidosis is diagnosed in up to five people in every 100,000 in the country.

Mr Nattress, who has a son and two daughters, as well as four granddaughters, and lives in Blackhill, Consett, is being treated with a range of medication to manage his condition, including a drug called Apo-diflunisal, which is imported from Canada.

He said: “They have said it will be a gradual downhill journey for me but I have seen people who are in a really bad way. They are very good at the centre so we wanted to give something back.”

Tickets for the charity evening, which includes a three course meal, raffle and disco, cost £20 and can be booked by calling Mrs Nattress on 01207 508019 or 07729 530549.