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Willie Thorne has died in hospital in Spain at the age of 66

Willie Thorne after he passed away in Spain aged 66 after having suffered from leukaemia when he was diagnosed in March and was taken to hospital last week.

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The tragic news was announced on his Go Fund Me page this morning. Julie O’Neill who set up the page wrote that Thorne stopped responding to treatment and the decision was made to turn off the machines. She added that the money raised more than £17,000 will now pay for the snooker legend’s funeral. “Thank you for all the donations that enabled him to get the care he needed!”

“The popular former Strictly contestant died peacefully listening to his children after going into septic shock last night,” his friend and carer said today.

Gary Lineker, who like Thorne is from Leicester, revealed his pain at the loss and tweeted: “Deeply, deeply saddened to hear that my friend Willie Thorne has passed away. One of life’s great characters. A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man, who’s potted his final black way too soon. RIP Willie.”

Stephen Hendry, who won the world title a record seven times, said of his former rival and BBC colleague: “Very sad news. Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker. I know he had faults and weaknesses (we all do), but he was one of the game’s greatest ever characters. I’ll miss him.”

Thorne was married to former Miss Great Britain Jill Saxby but their 24-year marriage came to an end in 2019. He also battled a serious gambling addiction, losing an estimated £1m, he leaves behind three children of his own and two stepchildren.

Thorne known as Mr Maximum was regarded among the world’s best players reaching a peak world ranking of No 7 and became a household name in the snooker world in the 1980s and reached the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship in 1982 and 1986.

Thorne was a huge character within the game and was part of 1986 single ‘Snoopy Loopy’ which was written and performed by Chas & Dave. He also became well-known for his punditry work, commentating for the BBC from the 1980s until 2018.

Having competed on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007. He was paired up with Erin Boag before being voted off early into the show – coming in 12th out of 14th place.

Taylor, the 1985 Crucible king, said: “He was a great friend, one of the great and most recognisable characters and just great company. It is very sad, it was all just too much for him. “He’d often say in recent years when he met someone ‘Pleased to meet you, Willie Thorne, a big star in the 1980s’. Or ‘I used to be Mr Maximum, now I’m Mr Minimum’.

Having moved to Spain in recent years Thorne had organised some charity fundraising events in 2019 paring up with Paul Gascoigne in Torrevieja, the pair had been interviewed on local radio BIG FM in the Quesada studio.

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