Review: Chesterfield Sands’ concert in aid of baby memorial garden

Wil Robinson, comperes the concert at Tupton Village Hall for Chesterfield Sands
Wil Robinson, comperes the concert at Tupton Village Hall for Chesterfield Sands

On the wall was a banner bearing the names of a hundred little angels, honouring the precious babies who had been lost but would be loved forever.

A sign which meant a lot to parents who attended a fundraising concert in aid of a baby memorial garden.

Supporters had already raised more than £20,000 for the memorial at Boythorpe Cemetery which will be opened on June 8, but they were determined to drive up funds even further to make the garden the best it could be.

Nicky Whelan, chairman of Chesterfield Sands (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death) charity, said: “It will be a beautiful garden where families can go and remember their babies,” she said. “We want a garden that is not just going to be used for ten or twenty years, we want a garden that is going to be used for all time.”

The fundraising concert in Tupton Village Hall last night (Saturday, May 24) was held in memory of Luke David Ions, whose mum Claire Cadman arranged the event with her partner Wil Robinson.

Big-hearted musicians and singers gave their services free of charge, generous businesses donated raffle prizes and dedicated volunteers baked cakes to raise £1,167.47 for the cause.

Musical highlights came in moving numbers from David Smith, of The Lantern Arcade, and Max Thorpe, whose operatic voice has wowed shoppers on the streets of Chesterfield. They reprised songs which they had sung at a baby memorial service last year.

David had been requested to perform Lullaby and said that it had been a real challenge for him to pull it off. “I struggled to learn it but I love it,” he said. “I send my apologies to Billy Joel but I also send my thanks.”

Elsewhere in the show, David aired original material which included an excellent All The White Horses, accompanied by Rob Cotterell on drums. Guitarist Dave also backed James Oakley while he sang Sting’s An Englishman in New York.

Proving a mean guitarist in his own right, James Oakley gave an awesome performance of King of Spain which featured vibrant, strumming fretwork.

Max Thorpe wowed the crowd by reprising Josh Grobin’s To Where You Are, one of the most beautifully sung numbers of the evening.

This quietly-spoken performer looked genuinely humbled by the two standing ovations he got after each of his sets of operatic songs, several of which he sang in Italian. Crowd-pleasers included Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, Nella Fantasia from The Mission film and the aria Alma del Core.

The concert was as uplifting as it was moving, largely due to the lively music performed by the two bands in which compere Wil Robinson performed.

Washington Whirligig played up a storm, ably demonstrating why the band is going down well at jazz clubs across the country as well as securing headline spots at upcoming festivals.

Frontman David Hepworth, tenor sax and clarinet player, said that the group specialised in tunes performed by the Alex Welsh Band, calling them “superb tunes that are not now being played.”

This versatile band changed instruments and singers to suit the tempo and mood of the songs which included Oh Baby, Blue Monk and the popular Running Wild, the latter accompanied by the audience clapping in time to the beat. The second set got off to a lively start with Stan’s Dance, slowed down with Hoagy Carmichael’s Up A Lazy River then revved up the crowd up with Everybody Ought To Know (Who Jesus Is).

The Southside Jazz Band kicked off the night in fine style by bringing the sounds of New Orleans to a small corner of north Derbyshire.

Fronted by vocalist and trumpet player Wil Robinson, who formed the group with drummer Cliff Hodgkinson 12 years ago, these skilful gentlemen of jazz opened their account with a lively rendition of The Bourbon Street Parade. The tempo slowed down a little for I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter before speeding up again for You’re Nobody’s Sweetheart Now.

Southside launched their second set with It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing before inviting other musicians to join them in a free-for-all performance of Bare Necessities, with the audience joining in on vocals.

For the finale, the collective performed When The Saints Go Marching In, in which singer Wil replaced The Saints with Chesterfield Sands for one chorus.

The fundraising for the memorial garden may be coming to an end, but the valuable work of Chesterfield Sands in supporting families through their toughest times is far from over.

GAY BOLTON