Clic Sargent UK Tour

Last December, I embarked on a UK tour with four other singer musicians, performing solo and group pieces at venues all over the UK, fundraising for Clic Sargent.  It was INCREDIBLE!  The cities, venues and dates were as follows:

4th Dec – 2 shows @ The Sage, Gateshead

5th Dec – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

6th Dec – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

7th Dec – Royal Albert Hall, London (that’s one whopper of a tick on my bucket list!)

8th Dec – Private pitch and performance at the Clic Sargent HQ, Bristol

9th Dec – Exeter Cathedral, Exeter

10th Dec – St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich

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From left: George Stephenson, Natalie Holmes, Jacob Cracknell, Harry Lehane, Lydia Haynes, Johanna Worcester-Barret, Phil Day, Veronica Stanwell, Simon Whitehead, Will Lang

The tour created some of the most amazing memories I have.  Singing ‘True Colours’ at The Royal Albert Hall with 1,500 children in the ‘Young Voices‘ choir joining in on the chorus was one of those moments in life where you sort of look down at yourself from above and think ‘this is it, this is living at its best’. I am extremely grateful to have experienced such a wonderful trip and to have performed at so many incredible venues! We helped raise substantial amounts for Clic Sargent, who have supported Harry, Jacob, George, Lydia and me in the past.  These concerts are vital for the survival of the charity as they rely solely on donations.

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Rob, our superman driver, drove us to each new venue overnight. Waking up outside the RAH was unreal!

We travelled to each of the cities in style, flaunting the ‘Beat the Street’ tour bus used by the likes of Beyoncé and Beiber (we weren’t too sure if the latter was a good thing! And found people were perhaps a little disapointed when they didn’t recognise us stepping off!). We slept on the bus for the whole duration, rehearsing in the lounges on board or at the venues. We became so close as a group, I honestly love and adore every soul from the trip.  The positive outlook and energy from everyone involved made me feel very inspired, whilst all having a huge amount of fun, laughter and banter along the way.

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We rehearsed and recorded our rough tracks at the B-E-A-utiful Real World Studios

The support, encouragement and overwhelming feedback we received after each performance was incredibly moving and I could feel that we were a part of something truly special. We have already been asked back for other performances! Very exciting times indeed.

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Sound check for ‘Summertime’ at The Sage, Gateshead

Speaking publicly about my own experiences with cancer has always been difficult for me.  I was in complete denial at the time I was diagnosed in 2013, and refused to tell anyone around me.  The last thing I wanted was for my new life in London and all of the connections I had made to associate me with cancer and see me as an ill person, someone to pity. Over time, I have become more confident with this part of my past (and present – hospital scans and check ups will continue for another 7 years!). After time to reflect, I feel so proud and fortunate to have achieved what I have with my health and career, despite the hurdles thrown at me. I feel empowered and empathic to others who have gone through similar experiences, connecting paths with so many inspiring people.

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Here we are in action on stage at the Royal Albert Hall with the 1,500 strong Young Voices choir behind us!

I had a rare type of ovarian cancer and had to have a 15x8cm tumour removed. The surgery and diagnosis all happened straight after graduating from my performing arts degree in Cambridge, as I was finding my feet in London. I had my heart set on establishing my career and meeting new people, but everything had to go on hold as I recovered and focused on my health. I was out of work for 5 months but had to continue to pay rent and shop for food etc, so as you can imagine, cancer cost me a lot. Clic Sargent have been running a campaign to highlight to people how much cancer costs to the average family, because on top of the emotional and physical challenges cancer brings, it also adds a huge strain financially. Clic’s research shows that the average cost of a child or young person with cancer is an additional £600 per month. That’s an awful lot, especially if you’re only just getting by in the first place.

There is a petition to sign to encourage the government to take action, please take a few seconds and join the campaign here:

Sign the Petition – Cancer Costs

You can also write to your local MP – Don’t worry, this is far more straight forward than it sounds! Clic Sargent have already written a guideline letter and all you need to do after signing the petition is enter your postcode to locate your local MP and click send (you can edit the letter if you wish). Simple! I wrote to mine in islington, Emily Thornberry, and she forwarded on my letter to the House of Commons. Together, we can make a difference. I have received a reply from the House of Commons and will continue to discuss and pledge this campaign with them.

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From top left: Phil Day – Tour organiser and manager, (me) Veronica Stanwell, Weronika Okraj – representative speaker for our performance at The Sage, Jacob Cracknell – fellow performer and bass lord, Lydia Haynes – fronting the tour with her debut arrangement of ‘Nature Boy’, Natalie Holmes – mentor singer songwriter from Bristol, Harry Lehane – fellow singer and drummer, Will Lang – Music Coordinater, Simon Whitehead – Videographer and tour guitarist, George Stephenson – fellow singer and percussionist

Clic Sargent support children, young people and their families when cancer strikes. Not only do they provide emotional and financial support, they also run all sorts of programs for the young people affected, including a residential week long music workshop every year. I went along this summer and loved every moment of it. I came away feeling so inspired and energised by the people I met. These programs aren’t at all about cancer, that is the best bit. They are about bringing likeminded passionate people together who can feel free to be themselves and not feel isolated by their illness or past. You can listen to some of the music created this year here, including the song I wrote with singer-songwriter Sam Brookes, called ‘New Beginnings’.

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Natalie Holmes, George Stephenson and myself ‘fresh’ off the tour bus at RAH!

We are still waiting to hear what the final amounts raised at each venue are, but already the figures from The Royal Albert Hall are looking to be around £155,000! THANK YOU for the amazing support and generosity I have encountered on this once in a lifetime fundraising tour. You’re all the wonderful people who make it all possible for Clic Sargent to do what they do, and they certainly do do amazing things.

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Phil Day, the music coordinator for Clic Sargent, is the person who made the whole tour happen, he is an absolute legend! With a background in both nursing and music management, he combines his two passions working for Clic Sargent. He has become ‘uncle Phil’ to everyone on the tour and we cannot thank him enough for everything he has done for us.

A lot of people have asked me about this tour and how it came about so I hope this enlightens you. It is amazing how something so breathtaking and uniting can come out of something so harrowing and isolating. Thank you Clic Sargent, and thank you for reading. Please spread the word about this amazing charity, they really do deserve all of the support possible.

Exeter Cathedral set up for the show