Keen fans of the rock group Queen will know the name Colin Preston who lived all his life in Plymouth. A story on the fansite 'Queenpedia.com' (which is wrong, by the way) reads:"Keep Smilin'" was written for Colin Preston, a young Queen fan who considered himself a Freddie look-alike. Colin was involved in a car accident and slipped into a coma, and Colin's parents asked if Freddie could visit their son. Instead, the vocalist took opportunity of studio time and wrote and recorded a song especially for Colin, then sent the tape to his family, who reported back that it made a difference; sadly, Colin died shortly afterward, and the family reassured Freddie that the tape would be buried with him so that no one could make a copy.
I knew Colin when I was about 10 years old (in 1971) and we both went to Knowle Primary School in West Park. For a while, we were best friends and would spend evenings searching for conkers and in the day, playing marbles, building dens and playing cowboys and Indians. He lived with his gran at the bottom of the road behind the fish and chip shop at West Park and I'd call for him on some days after school and we'd go out exploring the area (as kids did in those days). We ocassionally got into trouble like the time some lads set upon us while we were cutting through Honicknowle School. I had a bleeding nose so we went back to Colin's house and his gran then blamed me!
It's odd, when the school decided that, because my birthday fell in the summer holidays, that I'd be moved up a year, we were no longer in the same class and, from then on, hardly hung around with each other. I soon left for Southway Comprehensive ( which was dire to say the least) and I never saw Colin again. It's funny, when you're a kid, you can be such good friends with someone and then just move on.
Anyway, in about 1986, I had been seriously ill in hospital and when I came out, I read about Colin in the paper soon after and his battle with cancer (he hadn't been in a car crash as mentioned on many Queen sites on the net). I read in the Plymouth Star that pool and darts players at the Victory Inn had raised £580 for him. I looked in future papers for more news but never saw anything and assumed that he'd recovered. It wasn't until about 2010 that I'd heard that he died. He was certainly a great kid and a lot of fun and, even though I hadn't seen him for a very long time, I was upset to hear the news.Recently his brother, Philip, kindly sent me the photos, shown here, as well as the newspaper story that I remembered reading all those years ago. Colin would have been about 26 when he died and not a boy as reported on some sites. Although it was also reported that Colin had the only version of 'Keep Smilin' the song can be heard on Youtube and elsewhere.