charity

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The Ball and Boe Together Again tour 2017 finished in style at London’s 02 arena this week and I was very lucky to have a front row seat (courtesy of Claire Shorter) and witnessed one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.  In fact, only Alfie’s solo shows have surpassed it.  My review of the show and the tour in general follow but first we hear from Sarah Buttifant, for whom this was her first concert of the tour:

Just over a year ago I didn’t know who Alfie Boe was. I happened to watch Ball and Boe One Night Only on TV and the sound of his voice gave me goosebumps! Since then I’ve seen him and Michael at one of their summer concerts, I was extremely fortunate to be in the ITV studio for the recording of this years Ball and Boe Back Together and now I’ve seen them live at the 02.

I’ve got to admit I was expecting this concert to be amazing and it did not disappoint. Having deprived myself of spoilers for the two weeks leading up to the concert (no mean feat in itself!) I couldn’t wait to see what the boys had planned. The songs from the new album performed live were brilliant. Bring Me Sunshine, when they brought the children onto the stage was heart melting.

The evening just kept getting better and better. They rocked out with an epic Queen medley and the songs from Les Mis that we’d not heard them sing before were sublime. Their solo songs hit just the right note and the show stopping Wham finale had the whole of the 02 up on its feet. The friendship between these two shines out and their enthusiasm and love for music is completely infectious. I think it’s safe to say I’m addicted – roll on 16th June 2018, Kenwood House here I come.

Thank you so much Sarah for your thoughts – I agree, it was an amazing evening.  Although I had seen the concert in Brighton at the beginning of the tour, I knew that the running order was not necessarily the same and that there were hints of extras for the end of tour, London finale.  The main change for me was the addition of Alfie’s most popular live song of the last two years, Run which had been exchanged for Elton John’s Tiny Dancer after the first two shows.  Another addition was the inclusion of the two choirs, Mountview School and Rays of Sunshine, seen above (that’s me, Linda W and Jayne you can hear oohing and aahing on the video!).  The children were word perfect and totally rocked the stage, melting several thousand hearts along the way – if you want to raise money for them and help get Alfie and Michael to number one for Christmas, then click here.  Mountview students featured in the ITV special in October and more returned to sing alongside Alfie and Michael on Thursday evening; the result was just stunning, as can be seen from You’re The Voice:

Those students are having just the best time with Alfie and Michael, and the feeling’s obviously mutual!  These were my highlights from this concert although Alfie’s Bring Him Home (tears again from me and so emotional for him, singing that back at the 02) and the Wham medley were phenomenal.

My feelings about this tour are nothing but joy – it has been a privilege to witness such warmth, happiness and superb vocals from Alfie and Michael and in my opinion, everyone should see these two perform together at least once…although once would of course never be enough.  Happiness and joy are sometimes in short supply and these two go a long way to getting us there so if you haven’t been lucky enough to see them live, or want to relive the experience, click here to see the a YouTube playlist from the wonderful Linda Wellington.  My personal favourite from this tour is Alfie’s new song, Wagon Wheel:

This gives me the perfect opportunity to thank the wonderful musicians, in particular, Murray Gould, Sam Grimley, John Tonks, Callum McLeod, Neil Angilley, Don Richardson, Marsha Skinns, Ulrika Bergelind, Tor Hills and Emma Osei-Lah.

Thank you to Alfie and Michael for the fabulous music and to everyone I met in Brighton and London – all your messages are really appreciated. Special mentions to Linda Anstee, Linda Wellington, Jayne Templeton, Claire Shorter, Roberta Kappus, Cecelia Powell, Tienne Lockwood, Carole Hunt, Cheryl Stenason, Emma Brimacombe, Gail Slinn, Nicola Lange, Ellen Rook, Leanne Miller, Jo Cassidy, Heather and Jay, Mitsuko and Ayano, Sally Cook, Pat Watterson, Janet Baldwin and Annie Lloyd, not forgetting my guest reviewers Carole Hunt, Pauline Hyland, Heather Crosskey, Heather Moore, Sarah Buttifant, Claire Shorter, Barbara Wren and Kate Griffin. Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anyone but if I have, I’m sorry, it’s been a busy few weeks!

To donate to Rays of Sunshine and propel Ball and Boe to the tip of the singles charts, click here to download Bring Me Sunshine with all star cast.

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How would you like to help Alfie Boe and Michael Ball get the Christmas number one in both the singles and album chart and feel good about helping others at the same time?

If the answer to this is of course you would, then all you have to do is send some sunshine to your friends by sending them a download of Ball and Boe’s charity single, Bring Me Sunshine. Click here to download from iTunes and send as a gift.  Click here to download via amazon. And when you’ve done that tweet it with the hashtag #SendSunshine!

Let’s face it, everyone’s Christmas would be made better by listening to Alfie, Michael and friends singing this Morecambe and Wise classic:

The charity benefiting from the proceeds is Rays of Sunshine, a charity that grants wishes for seriously ill children and teenagers across the UK. The charity was founded in 2003 and has since granted more than 6,000 wishes for brave and deserving children. Their work provides hope and creates lasting and precious memories for thousands of families across the UK. The charity receives no government funding, so proceeds will enable them to help more children who greatly need help.  Some of the children in the choir appeared on stage at the 02 and raised the roof so please help them to raise as much money as possible.

Alfie and Michael are joined by other artists including Al Murray, Angela Rippon, Aston Merrygold, Bryn Terfel, Calum Scott, Collabro, Danny O’Donoghue (The Script), Gareth Malone, Gregory Porter, Imelda May, Imelda Staunton, Jason Manford, Kelsey Grammer, Lesley Joseph, Loose Women (Kaye Adams, Nadia Sawalha, Stacey Solomon, Linda Robson), Mark King, Mel Giedroyc, Miranda Hart, Ore Oduba, Pauline Quirke, Rick Wakeman, Seal, Shirley Ballas (Strictly Come Dancing), and the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir.

I earlier mentioned that Alfie and Michael are in the race for two number one slots this Christmas and of course they clinched the top album spot in 2016.  Having debuted at number one upon it’s October release, wouldn’t it be best thing to end a fabulous year if Together Again returned to the top spot?  The only thing to better it would be Bring Me Sunshine reigning supreme and raising lots of money for Rays of Sunshine.

Click here to download from iTunes and here from amazon, or you can text GET SUNSHINE to 84222 (£1 + standard message rate) and send some sunshine to all your friends – thank you!  Please share with the hashtag #SendSunshine as well.

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For many, including me, Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s take on the Morecambe and Wise classic, Bring Me Sunshine was a highlight of their second album, Together Again.  Consequently, it was wonderful news to hear that they had recorded a version to be released as a charity single to benefit the Rays of Sunshine children’s charity.  Released tomorrow, it’s hoped that the all star cast will help in the battle for this year’s Christmas number one – perhaps Ball and Boe might even make it a Christmas number one in both the singles and album chart?

Alfie and Michael are joined by the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir, made up of a group of children all living with a serious illness.  After getting to know the charity, Michael and Alfie have been so moved by their work that they wanted to do more, and so reached out to bring sunshine into the lives of desperately ill children this Christmas.  Other artists are Al Murray, Angela Rippon, Aston Merrygold, Bryn Terfel, Calum Scott, Collabro, Danny O’Donoghue (The Script), Gareth Malone, Gregory Porter, Imelda May, Imelda Staunton, Jason Manford, Kelsey Grammer, Lesley Joseph, Loose Women (Kaye Adams, Nadia Sawalha, Stacey Solomon, Linda Robson), Mark King, Mel Giedroyc, Miranda Hart, Ore Oduba, Pauline Quirke, Rick Wakeman, Seal, Shirley Ballas (Strictly Come Dancing), and the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Choir.

Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity grants wishes for seriously ill children and teenagers across the UK. The charity was founded in 2003 and has since granted more than 6,000 wishes for brave and deserving children. Their work provides hope and creates lasting and precious memories for thousands of families across the UK. The charity receives no government funding, so proceeds will enable them to help more children who greatly need our help. Visit www.raysofsunshine.org.uk to find out more.  Decca will donate 100% of all profits, whilst committing to a minimum donation of 50p from the sale of each permanent download to Rays of Sunshine.

To Bring Sunshine to this and order the single please text GET SUNSHINE to 84222 (T&Cs – Texts cost £1 + 1 standard rate msg. Help: 0333 0030 580.  You can also download from iTunes here and from amazon here.

 

In a special homecoming concert, Alfie Boe will play Fleetwood FC’s Highbury stadium on 2 June 2018.  The concert will be the largest ever seen in Fleetwood, which is of course the town where Alfie grew up.

 

Alfie is super excited to be playing in his home town as evidenced here:

Being Fleetwood born and bred and a fully fledged member of the Cod Army it’s an honour and a privilege to be performing back in my home town and at my team’s home ground. I hold Fleetwood close to my heart and I’m so happy to be coming back to entertain family and friends.

This will be Alfie’s second show in Fleetwood in the space of twelve months, as he performed a couple of songs when his blue plaque was unveiled at the Marine Hall where Alfie made his debut as a performer at the tender age of fourteen.  This honour was presented as part of the BBC Music Day celebrations in June this year and Alfie was also an BBC Music ambassador in 2017.

Despite a hectic work schedule and a home in America, Alfie always keeps Fleetwood and the Fylde Coast close to his heart and is a passionate supporter of the local hospice, Trinity and Brian House, becoming patron several years ago.  As such, £2 from each ticket sold will go to the hospice, considerably contributing towards their annual £5M+ running costs.  Head of Fundraising, Linzi Young, said:

This is quite incredible news for the Hospice. Alfie has been our patron for five years and has helped us launch various fundraising campaigns, has sent videos of support for events such as our annual Ball, and has also sent private messages to some of our patients and their families facing very difficult circumstances.  He is a man with a big heart, as well as a big voice. His global fan base is a window on the world for us; fans from across all continents get involved and send donations to Trinity in his name. We feel very privileged indeed to have the support of Alfie and his team.

Yet again fans can enjoy Alfie’s music whilst also supporting his charities – a win win for everyone!

Tickets go on sale Friday 24 November at 9am from Ticketmaster.  Click here for tickets.

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Another year rolls around to September which means that it’s time for Alfie’s birthday (29 September).  To celebrate, Alfie is once again donating his birthday to Nordoff Robbins, the music therapy charity for which he is an ambassador.  Alfie said about this now annual fundraiser

I am proud to once again be donating my birthday to Nordoff Robbins for what will now be my sixth year! I am prouder still to call myself an Ambassador for this wonderful charity, whose music therapy work has changed so many lives. But unfortunately they receive no government funding, so with your support and your generosity together we can help to ensure that their music therapy is available to all those who need it, and so that they can continue changing lives for years to come. Join me in supporting them this year and let’s use this opportunity to celebrate this charity, and the power of music!

And Alfie has also sent us a short video message:

Alfie became an ambassador for Nordoff Robbins in November 2011 following his win of the PPL Classical Award at the 2011 Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards. His ambassadorship was launched alongside the 2011 Christmas appeal which he spearheaded.  When I spoke to CEO Julie Whelan last year, she mentioned how important Alfie and other ambassadors are to the charity: “Alfie Boe is someone who gives his time to support us and also, through his fans he brings a whole new set of people who are aware of Nordoff Robbins and what we do.  Having that has made us much more confident as a charity”.

Ever since, Alfie has dedicated his birthday to the charity and his fans have responded with enthusiasm, raising over £9200.  Wow!  Do you think we could get over the £10,000 mark in 2017?  I bet we can – click here to donate (choose Alfie Boe from the drop down menu).  The video below shows Alfie supporting Nordoff Robbins in 2015, alongside their choir and singer Miel de Botton:

Nordoff Robbins as a fundraising charity recently celebrated it’s fortieth year, but the foundations of the therapy itself go back to 1959 when Paul Nordoff, an American composer and pianist and Clive Robbins, a special education teacher first developed collaborative music making which they termed ‘therapy in music’. Over the next fifteen years, this therapy was developed and delivered all over the world with the first centre opening in South London in 1970. Programmes for adults began in the latter part of this era. Since then, the charity has grown and grown and is now the largest single music therapy organisation in the UK, dedicated to transforming the lives of vulnerable and isolated people. Although Alfie’s special area of interest is providing music therapy and education for children, this is by no means the only group to be helped. People with dementia, depression, terminal or chronic illnesses and people with brain injuries are also amongst the recipients of the specialist therapy available. In some cases, music therapy is part of palliative care. In addition, the families and communities of those who receive therapy are also helped, thus ensuring a broad reach approach.  The video below demonstrates what they do:

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A couple of weeks ago I told you about the new fundraising initiative for Trinity Hospice, Get Together.  As one of Alfie’s charities (he is patron), his fans are more than happy to support Trinity in their annual push to raise £5 million and this year was no different, with a number of fans ‘getting together’ to raise money by taking part in an Alfie Boe YouTube marathon.  Held over the weekend, lots of fun was had by watching various videos and donating (a perfect excuse to sit and watch Alfie!).  The event started with a boost as Alfie had very kindly sent us a message wishing us well:

Thank you so much for getting together to raise money for Trinity. As a Patron, I hold the Hospice very dear to my heart and your contributions will ensure their brilliant work continues – good luck with the marathon! Lots of love Alfie x

 

 

Thanks Alfie – we did really well, raising an amazing £442! Wow!  Thank you to everyone who took part and donated – Trinity are absolutely thrilled with the amount.

The videos that ended up in the playlist (all fifty one of them!) can all be found here:

The YouTube marathon is ended now but if you would still like to donate to Trinity in Alfie’s name then click here.

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As fans of Alfie Boe we are aware that he supports several charities that are close to his heart and one that we have recently heard from is Trinity Hospice, the hospice supporting adults and children on the Fylde Coast which is where Alfie is from.

At the unveiling of Alfie’s blue plaque at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood, Shirley Morgan from the hospice told us about Alfie’s support, both public and private and told us what that means for them, particularly for their fundraising abilities.  Supporting adults and children on the same site, each year Trinity needs to raise £5 million to keep going and they are always looking for new ideas.  The past few years have seen them run Trinity tea parties, with Alfie himself urging everyone to “put the kettle on and raise money for Trinity” and this year they are running a similarly themed event, Get Together.

As patron, Alfie is wholeheartedly behind this new initiative and says

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a get together with friends and family. The weeks I spend on the road makes family time so precious – and I’d ask everyone having their own get together this summer to think about supporting Trinity and Brian House by doing a little bit of fundraising at the same time – that makes it a real win-win.

Click here for a fundraising pack but here are just some of the ideas already:

sizzling summer BBQ

themed dinner party

girly lunch or boys night in

evening of G&T or cocktails

family garden party

movie marathon

thoughtsofjustafan will be hosting an online Alfie on YouTube marathon over the weekend of 15-16 July – click here to join in the fun!

 

 

Alfie Boe and Michael Ball last night bid farewell to their very own summer of love at the first night of the 2017 Greenwich Music Festival and as with the other dates, held the audience in the palms of their hands.  The title of this piece is Summer of Love and it’s been a joy to see so much love surrounding this tour of outdoor venues; love for Alfie and Michael from fans and on social media, love from Alfie and Michael for the fans and also the almost epic scale bromance between the two. This may be the first show of this tour that I’ve seen but I’m sure that Alfie and Michael have not missed any opportunity to spread the love and gratitude to fans and each other for the absolutely fantastic year they’ve had.

Although Greenwich was my only show of this tour, I’m so glad that I was able to be there for the last one – last nights are very special and I wasn’t disappointed.  How could I be when my favourite song, Keep Me In Your Heart (come on, you know my favourite line by now!) was included, along with last year’s Best Alfie Boe Live Song, Run.  Of the rest of the changes, I was most impressed by Luck Be A Lady (from one of my favourite old style musicals) and of course the addition of One Day More to the end of the Les Mis medley – just when you think Alfie can’t get any better, he does.  At this rate, I’ll need to research lots more superlatives with which to describe Alfie’s voice – for now, I’ll just say that for me, he was perfection last night.

The song that surprised me the most was the encore of You’ll Never Walk Alone which I have never really felt an emotional connection to.  Last night though, the theme of unity and standing strong through adversity spoke to me and the tears came.  Michael had earlier spoken very movingly about the troubled times we find ourselves in and it strikes me that You’ll Never Walk Alone is the perfect song to reflect our unity and strength – none of us have perfect lives, after all, despite what we say on social media!

Earlier in the day, Alfie and Michael had presented an award at the 02 Silver Clefs in aid of Nordoff Robbins and Alfie, an ambassador for the charity, spoke a few words during his solo slot about their work – click here to find out more about music therapy from Nordoff Robbins.

Now if all this sounds somewhat sombre, the concert did contain the usual amount of humour from these two likely lads, as can be seen from the beginning of A Thousand Years – rear of the year anyone?

Alfie and Michael’s Summer of Love may be over for the time being but it won’t be long until we see them again for Together Again 2017 and before that, Alfie will of course be seen as Jimmy in Classic Quadrophenia (click here for tickets).  Until then, we’ll have to be content to send the boys all our love – we’ve loved these two weeks!

Special thanks to Linda Wellington for taking such fabulous videos for us all to share and to my two reviewers, Cecelia and Barbara.  And I must give a special mention to the Boe Buddies I had the good fortune to spend the Greenwich concert with, particularly Margie who is here from Australia via Paris.

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Alfie Boe fans love to keep up with all things Alfie and one of the things that they often ask about is the charities he supports.  Alfie is either an ambassador or patron of several charities but one that is particularly close to his heart is the Trinity Hospice, located on the Fylde Coast.  Serving both adults and children, Trinity relies on fundraising to find all the £5 million annual costs.

Alfie became a patron several years ago after being approached by the fundraising team to see if he would consider becoming an official supporter of the hospice.  Alfie of course hails from Fleetwood – just up the road from the hospice – and press officer Shirley Morgan says they “were absolutely thrilled when we got not only a ‘yes’ , but the news that he would become a Patron”.  Since then, Alfie has supported Trinity with public messages of support which generates a lot of interest both locally and around the world; an example of this is the Trinity Tea Parties of the last couple of years in which Alfie urged everyone to “put the kettle on” raise money.  This aspect of Alfie’s support is crucial as donations increase dramatically whenever Alfie supports them publicly.  There is an increase in activity, which can be traced back to Alfie supporters who are a fabulously loyal bunch.  Many fans see it as a way of giving something back to a performer who brings them so much joy, and Trinity are very grateful for their generosity.

Aside from the public messages of support, Alfie also takes time to support Trinity in less obvious ways.  One such way was about a month ago,  when Shirley Morgan had a call from the nurses at the hospice to say that one of the patients – a long time Alfie fan – had become very ill, and her family had been talking about how much Alfie’s music had meant to her. She had even named her medicine pump after him! It was a Friday lunchtime, but Shirley called Alfie’s team at Vector, in the hope that a few words of support from Alfie could be passed along to the patient.  In Shirley’s words, this is what happened next:

I knew it was a big ask because he was due on stage in Carousel that night – but his team said they would see what they could do. I had to leave work a bit early to drive my son home from school, but as I stepped through my front door at 6pm my phone pinged. It was a message from Alfie’s team, and I immediately thought I must write it down and get it back to the hospice as soon as I can. But when I opened the email and looked more closely I realised it was actually a video, recorded for our patient that afternoon by Alfie, sending love and support. He said he would be thinking of her as he was on stage that night. I downloaded it onto my iPad and went back to the hospice. I wish I could tell you how much joy it brought, not just for the lady in question, but also for her family, who were at her bedside. If only I could have caught it on camera – she simply could not believe that he had gone to so much trouble and that she had him, talking directly to her, in her room, just as he was going on stage in London. It’s a moment I won’t forget. Sadly, she died a few days later. Her family gave me permission to share the story with you; until now we haven’t told anyone, but they want people to know how much it meant and what an amazing memory it has given them.

I don’t know about you but when I first heard that story I shed a tear or two, and I know I speak for all of you when I say a huge thank you to the family of the lady concerned and best wishes going forward.

As mentioned earlier, Alfie’s fans love to support his chosen charities so stay tuned as there will be more news about Alfie and Trinity in the next few weeks.

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Autism – most of us have heard of autism and a fair amount of us probably think we know what is meant by the term autism, but do we?  There are a huge range of issues faced by people with autism and one of the problems causing difficulty is a lack of understanding amongst the wider public which is where World Autism Awareness Week (WAAW) comes in.  Brought into being by the National Autistic Society (NAS) to highlight World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April, WAAW, which runs 27 March – 2 April 2017, aims to further raise awareness and understanding in public attitudes.

This year, the charity is being helped with it’s annual campaign by up and coming music duo The Beautiful Secret, whose new single, What’s Inside, is the anthem for World Autism Awareness Week:

Released tomorrow, the song shows ‘what’s inside’ Katie-Rae, shown in the video.  Katie’s aunt, Rachael Hawnt, is one half of The Beautiful Secret (alongside Ashley Cutler) and after hearing Katie say that “no one ever listens to me”, wrote What’s Inside in response.  Rachael said about Katie-Rae, “she has autism and learning difficulties and had many fears and phobias from the get-go. She has struggled with social situations and depression all of her life, but she is still a strong and loving person with a fantastic artistic flare and a big, big heart.  We wanted to write a song to help raise funds and awareness for autistic people. The first person I went to talk to was Katie-Rae; I told her I wanted to write about the way she felt, a real perspective from a real autistic child.”

The fundraising and awareness aspect of teaming up with the National Autistic Society came later and is something that Katie-Rae herself feels very proud of. Speaking this week, Katie said “I’m not brave enough to get the word out there myself so my aunt is doing it for me…it makes me happy that it’s going to help people”.

Highlighting understanding is the key to both this song and this year’s World Autism Awareness Week and Katie-Rae’s own words encapsulate perfectly the issues she and many other autistic people face on a daily basis.  Speaking about school, Katie told me that

No one cared how we felt, people thought we were crazy.  We’re not crazy, we’re just different.  People didn’t really understand, even the teachers, until Miss Young helped us explain to the other teachers how we feel and how we think.

The fundraising head of NAS, Kate Donohue, agreed that “very often, young autistic people felt that no one ever listened to them”, which is why the song is so powerful.  To have Katie-Rae appearing in a video highlights just how powerful the song is – and also shows how brave this young lady is, despite what she thinks.

What’s Inside, by The Beautiful Secret, supporting the National Autistic Society is available here:

All proceeds go to NAS.

Click here to find out more about the fundraising and awareness work of the National Autistic Society.

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