Sir Brian May praises 4-year-old cancer patient for Bohemian Rhapsody air guitar

Sir Brian May praises 4-year-old cancer patient for Bohemian Rhapsody air guitar
Billy was ‘spellbound’ by the video Sir Brian sent him (Ellie Thompson and Sir Brian May)

A four-year-old with a terminal brain tumour who was filmed performing air guitar to Bohemian Rhapsody on his way to radiotherapy treatment has been left “spellbound” by a message of support he received in response from Queen guitarist Sir Brian May.

Billy Thompson, who was diagnosed with inoperable, terminal diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) in October this year, was sent a video by Sir Brian congratulating him on his bravery after he was filmed performing air guitar to the song on his way to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London from his home in Great Bookham, Surrey, three weeks ago.

Billy’s mother, Ellie Thompson, said she was “blown away” after her son received messages of support from both Sir Brian and England rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson earlier this week.

Billy was playing air guitar to Queen on his way home from chemotherapy (Ellie Thompson)

“I was absolutely blown away,” Mrs Thompson, 38, told the PA news agency.

“As a lifelong Queen fan it was amazing to receive a video message from Sir Brian May – Billy was equally spellbound, he couldn’t believe it.”

Mrs Thompson filmed the moment her son played along with the 1975 hit by Sir Brian’s band Queen while they were on their way to a radiotherapy session on November 22 2023 and uploaded it to her Instagram account, when a work contact sent it to Universal in hope of getting a message back.

In a video response, Sir Brian told Billy: “Hello Billy, this is Brian May, I’m the guitar player in Queen.

“You were just listening to some Queen music and I saw you rocking out.

“Looks like you’ve got some good air guitar moves going for you there, and I know you’re going through some difficult stuff, but you’ve been incredibly brave, and music is the big help isn’t it?

Sir Brian May congratulated Billy on his guitar moves (Sir Brian May)

“Lots of love and a merry Christmas, give my love to your parents too.”

According to the Brain Tumour Charity, DIPG is a grade four brain tumour found in children which has an average survival rate of less than a year, but over £120,000 has been raised of a £170,000 target via an online fundraiser for Billy – which his parents hope will help him to be accepted on to a clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Mrs Thompson said Billy’s father Jamie Thompson, a 42-year-old senior project manager and rugby coach, was also particularly overjoyed when former England and Newcastle Falcons fly-half Wilkinson reached out via another video to share his support too.

In a selfie video the 2003 World Cup winner Wilkinson commends the family on their courage, and urges anyone watching to help them in any way that they can.

Wilkinson said: “I am absolutely supporting Billy the brave – a wonderful four year old boy facing DIPG cancer at the moment, a cancer with no cure.

Wilkinson encouraged people to donate to the family’s fundraiser (Jonny Wilkinson)

“But, he and his wonderful family are looking to alter that, raising incredibly important funds for every family that may come across this in the future – it’s just such an important, worthwhile cause.

“I just couldn’t have any more respect for you or begin to understand what it must be like, but you are all inspiring, and I’d encourage anyone who possibly can to support this.”

Mrs Thompson added: “As big rugby fans, Jonny Wilkinson is a family hero and he’s also a supporter of the Brain Tumour Charity, so it’s been fantastic to have him stand up for Billy and join the fight.

Ellie could not believe it when she received the message from Sir Brian May (Ellie Thompson)

“A massive thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Sir Brian May for making Billy smile, and an equally huge thank you to Jonny Wilkinson for recording a video we could use to help us raise awareness of Billy’s battle.”

The family said Billy’s JustGiving page, which has raised over £120,000, will go towards any treatment he receives and help fund research towards DIPG in the future.

“Please help Billy fight DIPG, and let’s work towards finding a cure, not just for Billy, but for all the kids and adults going through this,” Mrs Thompson said.

To donate to Billy’s fundraiser, go to:

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