BRAVE teenager Kier McArthur has returned home from two successful and life-changing operations in America – and received a superstar welcome.
The 13-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, flew back to Coatbridge last Saturday after almost a month in St Louis undergoing revolutionary surgery which has already greatly improved his movement.
He and dad Martin celebrated their homecoming by attending a long-awaited concert by Duran Duran in Glasgow on Sunday – where they were guests of honour after a chance meeting with the band on the way to America – and heard the band dedicate a song to Kier before thousands of cheering fans.
They also then attended a special party last night organised by their many friends from popular website The Only Way Is Coatbridge, who raised thousands of pounds to help towards the £60,000 cost of the operations.
Martin said: “It all went really well and the difference in his body is incredible. He can tap his heels and toes and his legs are looking straighter.
“Kier’s hands were affected too and things like doing up buttons were really difficult for him, but now he can do that no problem.
“He now has lots of physio and stamina exercises to do – his daily routine is like an Olympic athlete, but he’s so determined.
“Before we left St Louis, they had him standing on crutches and he’s even able to get around the house without support. His walking frame is improving every day and he feels great.”
Kier and Martin were special guests of Duran Duran at their SECC gig after having met singer Simon Le Bon and bassist John Taylor at Newark airport on their way to St Louis.
Simon Le Bon told the cheering crowd of Kier’s remarkable story before the band dedicated their performance of Ordinary World to him.
Martin said: “The guys were great – we had a riot with them at the airport and had loads of e-mails from them while we were in St Louis to see how things were going and to say how much they were looking forward to seeing us in Glasgow.
“At the concert, the tour manager himself came to get us. As soon as we walked in, John Taylor came in and remembered us straight away, then Simon came out and said, ‘Kier, how’s it going, big guy!’
“We met the whole band and they said they thought Kier is incredible and wanted to mention him during the concert and dedicate a song.
“Simon’s speech was videoed so we’ll have that to keep, and they even posted a link on their official web page to Kier’s website.”
That enthusiastically-received dedication was not the only Monklands feature of Sunday’s concert before thousands of fans.
Longriggend man David Dempsey was plucked from the front row by the band’s frontman to lead the crowd in singing the introduction to 80s hit The Reflex.
He was at the gig with his sister, “massive Duran Duran fan” Jane Bowie, for whom the tickets were part of a gift for her 40th birthday in October – and earned her a special birthday mention from the band.
David said: “I can’t believe any of it happened to me! When Simon Le Bon came down off the stage, we didn’t think he would talk to us, but then he said he was looking for a guy to sing and came over.
“It was the most bizarre feeling climbing the barrier and looking out over the whole SEC crowd.
“Jane was totally envious and overwhelmed and it made it a really happy birthday for her as it was such a fantastic personal touch.”
Courtesy Airdrie & Coatbridge