Saturday, 26 March 2016

Rock Against Dementia - A Concert in aid of Dementia UK

Since I started singing back in 2011, I've been lucky enough to have been involved in some memorable concerts, most of which have been documented within this humble blog.  Last Saturday night's concert in aid of Dementia UK will live long in the memory for a multitude of reasons.

Dementia seems to be an issue that has touched many people of late, but it seems doubly cruel that both of Ruth's parents should have been struck with albeit very different forms in recent years. None of us could have forseen how poignant the date of 19th March 2016 was to become when plans for the Purple Angels 'Rock Against Dementia' concert were initiated.

But what a stunning night it turned out to be. The amount of work that Ruth put in to this night was utterly phenomenal. Planning was meticulous. Absolutely nothing was left to chance and it showed on the night. Purple balloons, purple cakes, posters, banners, stickers, even edible 'Purple Angel' logos on rice paper for the purple cupcakes were ordered! A professional photographer, Rebecca Holden, daughter of Helen Bamber was recruited to record anything and everything on the night and she did a fantastic job. There are some quite fabulous shots that captured the essence of the night just perfectly as you will see below.

But at the centre of it all was the 'Guest of Honour' for the night - Ruth's dad Peter Sharpe. Ruth decided to make the event the launch date of Peter's memoir, 'ark at Our Peter', which he had written with Ruth over the last few years. While initially published in the form of a online blog and presented to numerous groups as a talk, Ruth soon realised that it needed to be printed in the form of a book. This was brought to fruition with the help of Dave Dover of Reprint UK Printing Services at a reasonable cost and 50 copies were produced for sale on the night with the first two copies presented to Peter in a special presentation box.

Compere, Wendy Burns

As masterful as the organisation was, that didn't stop Ruth worrying about whether anyone was actually going to turn up. Even the daily replies to her invitations pledging attendance didn't seem to reassure her that we were going to get a substantial audience. But turn up they did giving us a pretty much full house. A full house that included the lovely Tanya Sage, who is as I type this blog, getting bladdered with my dear wife - somewhere in Loughborough - probably.

But what of the concert? Well, this was a fabulous mixture of musical styles that just worked a treat. Our compere for the night was Wendy Burns who kicked off proceedings and introduced the opening segment by the Loughborough Brigades Band, led by Alistair Nicholl. They played a selection of marches that they present in competition and were just great.The guys and gals of varying ages clearly love what they do and so it seemed did the audience.

Loughborough Brigades Band
Loughborough Brigades Band
Freddie Mercury (aka Alyn Paul Coward)
Then compere Wendy introduced "for one night only", The Purple Angel Singers! This motley group of individuals, some richly talented, some 'as mad as a bucket of frogs', (eh Norman?), were well known to all as the Caroline Sharpe Singers and would adorn largely purple attire with one notable exception. Oh yes, Freddie was back once more to start our little segment with a reprise of that Queen classic Fat Bottomed Girls. So yours truly again donned the leather trousers (steady ladies!)  and Freddie Mercury tribute T-shirt and I gave it my 'best shot'. Well, I got the words right this time and got most of the audience clapping. It would've been pretty flawless if it wasn't for a bizarre faux-pas when I ended up singing 'Ohhhh' all on my own at one embarrassing moment. I've absolutely no idea why, or even what was meant to have been happening at that point, but I felt a little ridiculous until I looked a my wife who cracked up laughing, causing me to do likewise! Oh, the joy of live performing which just showed I wasn't miming I suppose.

Norman Hockley singing Blue Moon

We followed that with the truly splendid One, which we are pretty darn good at and have even won an award or two for it in the recent past. That was rapidly followed by Sid's favourite (or maybe not) Blue Moon featuring a solo from that 'mad frog' Norman Hockley. Nice one Norman!
Chris Higgins with his hand built guitar

Next up was an acoustic guitar performance from Chris Higgins, who sang some really fine songs including Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight and John Denver's Annie's Song. As impressive as Chris's performance was, what he doesn't mention too often is the fact that he actually made the two guitars he used in his performance. This man is just way too talented for his own good!
Then came a 'lump in throat' moment as 'Guest of Honour' Peter Sharpe was presented with copies of his book 'ark at Our Peter. By the end of the night we had sold out of copies of the book, but if anyone would still like a copy and didn't manage put their name down for one, please let me know by emailing me your details and we will get one to you as soon as we can - click here to do just that! It really is a great read, full of humour and nostalgia. Copies are priced at a minimum of £4-00 with anything above that being donated to Dementia UK, so give generously folks!
Peter Sharpe and Ruth
The Brigades Band then did their second set of pieces before us Purple Angel Singers returned, this time with the help of a cellist, Hannah Bristow, in addition of course to the ever reliable Chris Hill on piano. Carl Jenkins' Benedictus was the piece for which the cellist was sought and what a difference it made. Just beautiful!
That was followed by Canon in D, and May it Be before we rounded things off appropriately with Goodnight Sweetheart.
After the music came plenty of time to view display boards regarding the work of Dementua UK and also the Brigades Band as well as slideshows  of Peter's photographs and memorabilia, both in the hall and the kitchen/dining room where a  myriad of cakes, cakes and I think a few cakes were to be had. Nice! It was made known prior to the start of the concert that a whopping donation of £500 had been made by a group if local radio hams who had decided this year to donate to Dementia UK and chose to make the donation through the night's event.
Later that night, the monies received had been counted up and including the big donation and minus a few of Ruth's expenses a total in excess of £1,200 will be forwarded to Dementia UK. A quite staggering total, way beyond anything Ruth could have dreamt of when setting the whole thing up!
Of course, not everyone who wanted to go along were able to and if you would still like to contribute to this extremely worthwhile charity, Michelle Oldale of Caroline Sharpe Singers, has set up as 'Just Giving' page for you to do just that. So if you would like to contribute to the battle against dementia, please go to the page by clicking here. Thanks!
So what a night it turned out to be. Ruth should be immensely proud of what she has achieved. Not just the money raised, but the flawless organisation and the entertaining and complementary fields of music that worked so well together to make a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable night.
Dementia in all its forms is something that seems to have touched the lives of so many in recent times and perhaps because of this, last Saturday's event captured the imagination of so many.
On behalf of Ruth, I would like to finish by thanking the following:-
David Dyson for organising the refreshments.
David Concannon for everything techie including photo slideshows.
Wendy Burns for agreeing to compere the evening and doing a fab job.
Rebecca Holden for her superb photography.
Chris Hill for tinkling the ivories as only Chris can.
Hannah Bristow for her beautiful cello playing.
Dave Dover of Reprint UK Printing Services for printing the book.
And Caroline Sharpe for her helpful hand waving.
Until next time?
Alyn aka 'Freddie'.
P.S. More photos to follow!