Posted on Wednesday 21 November 2018
Young cancer survivors to tour England this Christmas to raise money for CLIC Sargent
Eight young singers who have all overcome cancer will be performing around the country this Christmas, to raise money for the charity that supported them through their cancer journey.
The group, including Marie Beall, Jordan Freeman, Pippa Williams, Alastair Whettell, Tom Meadley, Tomas Farrington and Louis Gaudencio, all aged 16-25, have been invited to perform as part of Christmas concerts alongside local choirs and schools, in Newcastle (2 December) with Crystal Marshall joining them in Manchester (3 and 4 December) Exeter (14 December).
The CLIC Sargent Singers came together after meeting at CLIC Sargent’s music programme which works with young people who have experienced cancer to help build confidence and self-esteem through music mentoring and workshops. At the charity’s residential workshop this summer, the group wrote and recorded some of the songs they will be performing on tour.
Tom Meadley’s story
Tom is 22 and lives in Stroud Gloucestershire. He is a talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist pianist and guitarist. He left Oxford University to pursue a career as a musician, and to travel round the world. Whilst travelling, Tom fell ill and was given the news he had leukaemia.
During his treatment, Tom was supported by a CLIC Sargent social worker who helped with financial benefits and practical advice and also recommended he join the charity’s music programme.
Tom said: “The workshop was incredible. At the time I was considering giving up my dream of being a musician. My whole experience of getting ill, the cancer diagnosis and treatment had been so isolating. I learnt a lot about myself but I’d lost all confidence. To finally join a community of people who could totally relate to what I have been going through, and support me emotionally was a great feeling.
“I felt valued not as a “cancer survivor” but as a musician, a person, a friend. It raised my confidence and was the first time in years that I was around people who were so enthusiastic about my music. It was really exciting to work alongside the other young people and professional musicians and engineers, an amazing environment to rekindle and share the enjoyment of music.
“I am incredibly excited to be performing at the Bridgewater Hall and to experience again the buzz of being with other young musicians and singers, and to give something back to help raise awareness of cancer and the work of CLIC Sargent”.
Alastair Whetell’s story
Alastair, 22, was diagnosed in July 2017 with Hodgkins Lymphoma while at university. Despite dealing with the impact of a cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment, he completed his degree in Ocean Science. Alastair’s treatment finished the day after his graduation.
When Alastair was first diagnosed he hadn’t heard about CLIC Sargent. When he started treatment, he was visited by one of the charity’s social workers, who helped him with financial support and introduced him to other young people with cancer and he went along to this year’s CLIC Sargent summer residential music workshop.
Alastair said: “The music workshop was an incredible experience, singing and recording was the highlight of my year! I made friends with some amazing people both music mentors and patients, who were all understanding and accepting of whoever you are. Everyone struck by cancer can say that it is a shock to the system. However, for the first time I can honestly say I didn’t feel like I had to put on a front, I could just be me.
“It’s not always obvious to others when you are dealing with the impact of a cancer diagnosis, and it’s difficult to explain to people; almost as if you are speaking different languages. At the workshop though, I met like-minded people who were all going through similar things as me, and I was even able to help others where they would struggle. It gave me so much confidence and has inspired me to continue learning to play piano and guitar. The peer support and encouragement was great and I have made friends for life. It opened my eyes that the future isn’t all bleak and there are good things to come.
“Performing is a real passion of mine and I want to get as much experience as I can. I am a little nervous about the thought of singing in such an amazing place as Exeter Cathedral but I am really looking forward to it.”
Jordan Freeman’s story
Jordan Freeman is 18 and from Wolverhampton. She was given the all-clear last June, after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma two years ago.
Jordan said: “The chemotherapy was really horrible. I was so weak I wasn’t able to walk easily and the treatment made me feel much worse. I seemed to pick up any infection going in the hospital. It was a huge relief when I was given the all clear, because I could get back to college and get some normality back for me and my family.
“The CLIC Sargent music workshop was an amazing experience. I was really nervous to sing at the open mic session but the music leaders were so supportive. It has really enhanced my confidence to be able to get on stage and perform.”
Jordan is currently studying at college and is looking ahead to university. She said: “Initially I was really interested in drama but because of the workshop I am looking more at music and musical theatre. I am really looking forward to performing and seeing different parts of the country with other young people who I have become really close to, thanks to CLIC Sargent.”
Marie Beall’s story
Marie is 18 years old and lives in Epsom. She was diagnosed with cancer in October 2016, aged 16, during year 12 at the Brit School where she was studying music dance and theatre.
Her treatment involved nine months of chemotherapy and three months specialist radiotherapy in Florida. She was left with radiotherapy burns to her neck and around the eye, and pain in her mouth and throat but fortunately the treatment didn’t damage her speech and ability to sing, or lose the sight in her eye.
Marie said: “CLIC Sargent has really helped me to accept my relationship with cancer. My plan was to run away as far as possible, but that coping strategy wasn’t working. The workshop allowed me to talk about my experiences with other people who understood what I was feeling and helped me realise I was not the only one going through this. I have made great friends and I feel much more confident and stronger than before.”
Marie is now doing a musical theatre course at The Brit School and busy applying for University and drama schools. She said: “I am really excited about performing at the City Hall and touring with my friends, and also the opportunity to raise awareness of cancer and the work that CLIC Sargent do to support young people like me.”
Phil Day, CLIC Sargent’s Music Coordinator, said: “The concerts always promise to be inspirational evenings, and it is wonderful that these young people are part of the bill. Each singer is incredibly talented and now that they’ve come together as a group, it offers something truly special.
“The music programme, which celebrates its eleventh year this year, focuses on helping young people who have experienced cancer to be creative and focus on enjoyment and musical expression – defining themselves with music and performance, rather than being defined by their illness. The tour is going to be a huge success and a wonderful experience for them all.”
The group will be performing at:
- CLIC Sargent Christmas Carol Concert 2018, Newcastle City Hall – 2 December
- Manchester and District Hospitals’ Choir Christmas Carol Concert Celebration 2018, Manchester Bridgewater Hall – 3 and 4 December
- CLIC for Christmas with La La Choirs, Exeter Cathedral – 14 December
CLIC Sargent has paid tribute to its founder, Bristolian Bob Woodward, who died on 20 January 2019, aged 85.
Artwork from young artists across the UK, who have all experienced cancer, is to be showcased at three special events, hosted by CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, to mark World Cancer Day.