A community comes together through music to raise money for flood relief

Rachael Grealish reports on the Cumbria Flood Aid charity gigs of 2015 Photos by Robert Haile.

After the devastating floods in December 2015 the community has once again pulled together – this time through music.

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The Five and Dangerous frontman, Steve ‘Pecker’ Woods, was a crowd favourite as he danced with audience members and gave out shots of whisky.

Cumbria Flood Aid 2015 was put together to raise money for those affected by the floods.

The flood aid gigs were split into two separate events: an acoustic gig and a rock gig. Both took place at Marchon Social Club, in Whitehaven.

The acoustic Flood Aid Gig was organised by Marc Goodwin, with the help of Andrew George and took place on Sunday December 27.

Over 180 people attended and all artists gave their time free and this resulted in over £1,900 being raised on the night.

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Young talent, Sophia Brennan split her performance into two parts: singing to an acoustic guitar and playing her own music on the keyboard.

The second Flood Aid gig focused on bands and was organised by Ryan Burns, frontman of rock and blues band, Mama Sang and the Robots, again a full room attended the all dayer and over £2,100 was raised.

Mr Goodwin said: “When you see your friends and neighbours in trouble your immediate reaction is to help.
“We have some immensely talented musicians in West Cumbria and every artist and band volunteered to help free of charge and their friends, family and music lovers turned out in support, making all the effort worthwhile.”

Acts performing in the acoustic gig included: Sophia Brennan, D’Bleedin Blaggards, Coral Price with Tom Salmon and Luke Yates standing in for Arran George and Taylor, as both were ill at the time of the gig.

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D’Bleedin Blaggards headlined the acoustic night, getting everyone up to dance to some country and Irish favourites such as Galway Girl and Fairytale of New York.

D’Bleedin Blaggards were a perfect end to the evening as they got the entire audience on their feet dancing to their country songs.

Attending the acoustic gig was Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie, showing his support for the local cause.

Mayor Starkie said: “I think it was a well organised event, it demonstrates the fantastic community spirit that we have.

“This event was organised, artists volunteered their services and it was very well supported by the public, right in the middle of a busy Christmas period, raising a significant amount of money for the flood appeal. Once again the people of Copeland have pulled together to help our neighbours who have been devastated by the floods.”

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Ryan Burns didn’t only organise the second gig, but also performed with his band Mama Sang and the Robots. The were joined on stage by former band member Adam Amor for a special song.

The second gig had more of a rock and blues theme with John and Wayne, Gavin McKew, Mama Sang and the Robots, MT Arms, Rough Cuts, The Mustangs and Five and Dangerous all giving of their time for the all dayer.

The headliner, Five and Dangerous were sure crowd pleasers as their frontman, Steve ‘Pecker’ Woods travelled into the audience, climbed on tables and gave out shots of whiskey to all the adults wanting to party at the end of the evening.

The Organiser of the rock band gig, Ryan Burns, said: “I got stuck in the floods so supporting this charity is important to me.

“I’m so thankful to all the people involved, the businesses and everyone who attended to make it happen and raise the money we raised.”

Whitehaven’s Santander Bank have also collected £1,200 in support of the flood fund at their branch on King Street.

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Rough Cuts were true rock and blues for the evening playing all the classics and getting the crowd into a really rocking mood.

On Sunday January 10, cheques from the flood aid gig, the wheelie bin challenge, from the previous year and from Santander in Whitehaven were all presented to Willie Slavin, a trustee of the Cumbria Community Foundation.
Claire Crewdson, from Santander Whitehaven, said: “We successfully applied for match funding from our national team in support of the local fund-raisers and we are proud to announce that this additional £3,500 s set to take the total raised above £10,000.”

Cumbria is still feeling the impact of the flooding after Storm Desmond – the fourth named storm that hit Cumbria in December.

It caused the number of houses invaded by water in 2015 to be more than three times than that in 2009.
But it was commented throughout both evenings that even in the most dire times the community banded together to help those in need.

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Tom Salmon didn’t only fill in for Tom Taylor, but also filmed the evening as part of a video project in hope to raise more awareness.

Andrew George, co-organiser, said: “The community we live in is fantastic, people have just rolled their sleeves up and buckled down to help repair their small section in Cumbria’s road to recovery. Marc, Ryan, Santander Bank, and everyone who helped with these events are rebuilding homes, people’s lives, and our community, altogether a fantastic effort.”

Barrow-in-Furness Foodbank got involved with the cause along with Andrew George in the December Wheelie Bin Challenge.

Alison Griffiths from the Foodbank said: “Barrow Foodbank is proud to have been involved in raising money for the flood relief fund. “We are also very grateful to the pupils and teachers involved in making it all happen.”
Even though there is an estimated £500,000,000 needed to repair all the damage from the floods and more work to be done, this is a community that won’t give up.

Willie Slavin said: “The response from around the county has been phenomenal. The funds keep increasing and we are hoping to reach £6m in the next few weeks. All the support has been amazing and the people in this county are the ones making it happen.”

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All to a good cause: (From L to R): Andrew George, Alison Griffiths, Willie Slavin, Claire Crewsden, Marc Goodwin, Ryan Burns and Arthur Burns, all outside Santander Bank, King Street, Whitehaven