Tragedy as wheelchair-bound X Factor finalist Kerry McGregor dies of cancer, aged 37
Singing star: Kerry McGregor is pictured here during her time on the X Factor back in 2006 – it emerged yesterday that she has passed away from cancer at the age of 37
She captured millions of hearts as she battled bravely through to the finals of TV talent show X Factor.
But Scots singing star Kerry McGregor has lost her toughest fight of all
after it emerged yesterday that she has died of cancer aged 37.
The wheelchair-bound singer and actress, who made the last ten of the
ITV talent show in 2006, was diagnosed with bladder cancer two years ago
but it was thought she was beating the killer disease after undergoing
three months of gruelling chemotherapy which almost left her deaf.
The mother-of-one, who also starred in Channel 4 cult sit-com The Book
Group, had been spurred on by messages of support from her X Factor
mentor Sharon Osbourne, who fought her own battle with cancer, and
fellow Scot and Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) star Susan Boyle, who hailed
her as an inspiration in her autobiography.
Last night, it was revealed that Kerry and Miss Boyle were about to go
into the studio together to record a duet until the project was
halted just days ago by Kerry’s ill health.
Kerry, of Pumpherston, West Lothian — who broke her back in a fall when
she was 13 — was diagnosed with cancer in September 2010 after suffering
two years of stomach pains.
When details of her illness were first made public in April last year,
the singer, who leaves a son, Joshua, seven, with partner Dean
Robertson, 36, property developer, said: ‘It was small cell cancer, one
of the fastest-spreading. I wasn’t surprised. The fight is long, but I
want to live. I’ve got so much more to give.’
Duet: Miss McGregor had been due to record a song with fellow Scot Susan Boyle just days before the tragic news was announced
However, last night, a brief statement from her management company said: ‘It is with deep sadness we announce that Kerry passed away at home,
earlier today following a battle with cancer. At this time, our thoughts
and prayers are with her family and friends.’
Her manager, Ewan Gallagher, said: ‘This is a desperately sad time for
all Kerry’s friends and family. She was such a gifted singer and
song-writer. She left more than 40 of her own songs unrecorded at her
‘And she had forged a close friendship with Susan Boyle, who became very
attached to Kerry because both are from West Lothian. Susan wrote in
her autobiography that Kerry’s appearance on X Factor was what gave her
the courage to appear on BGT.
‘The pair were about to record a duet of Wings To Fly, which has only
appeared as a bonus track on an album released by Susan in Japan. I’m
sure it would have been a huge hit and the words have such poignancy. I
don’t know what will happen with that project now.’
Tragic: Kerry had pains in her stomach for two years before finding out she had bladder cancer – she also broke her back in an accident when she was just 13 years old
Born in 1974 into a musical family – her late grandfather, Bobby
McKerracher, was known as “the Scottish Bing Crosby” – Kerry was aged
five when her father was killed in a road crash.
Raised by her mother, Margaret, also a talented singer, she showed early
promise as a gymnast at West Calder High School before she fell from a
tree aged 13 and broke her back, leaving her partially paralysed from
the waist down.
Determined to remain in mainstream schooling, she re-learnt how to walk
with crutches and leg braces in just six weeks, earning a Child of
Of her disability, she once said: ‘Life changed completely for me from
an early age. In some people’s eyes it could be a hindrance but in my
eyes it’s not. If anything, it gives me all the more reason to kick my
heels in and go on. I am determined and I will achieve.’
After studying music and drama at Jewel and Esk Valley College in
Edinburgh, she formed the dance band Nexus in 1993 before leaving to
join QFX, whose album Freedom reached Number 21 in the UK charts.
Sad news: Simon Cowell tweeted his condolences to the family and friends of Kerry McGregor
Talent spotted by Kenny MacDonald, manager of top Scots band The
Proclaimers, she was selected to record a song for the UKs entry for
the Eurovision Song Contest in 1997, coming second to Katrina and the
Waves, who went on to win Eurovision with Love Shine a Light.
In 2006, Kerry secured her biggest break after making the finals of
series three of The X Factor, which was eventually won by future Grammy
award nominee Leona Lewis.
Kerry later concentrated on her acting career and song-writing and had more than 40 songs still unrecorded at her death.
Respect: Sharon Osbourne, who was on the X Factor judging panel when Kerry was a contestant, also sent her thoughts out to the family
As an actress, she performed on stage, radio and television productions,
with notable appearances as Carol-Ann in Annie Griffin’s BAFTA
Scotland-winning Channel 4 series The Book Group, and in the
award-winning BBC children’s drama series Grange Hill.
Last month, she accepted a role as an ambassador with Action for Bladder
Cancer (ABC), the UK’s only charity dedicated to fighting bladder
cancer, the fourth most common cancer in men and 11th most common in
women with around 10,000 Britons diagnosed with the disease every year.
Colin Bunce, chair of Action on Bladder Cancer, said: ‘We are deeply
saddened by the news about Kerry. She was a truly inspirational person
and we were delighted when, before Christmas, she accepted our
invitation to become an Ambassador for Action on Bladder Cancer.
‘She was deeply committed to helping raise awareness about bladder
cancer and our thoughts are very much with her family at this time.’