The African Children’s Choir come to Hersham!

The African Children’s Choir come to Hersham!

On Friday 23rd June from 7.30pm-9.30pm there will be a concert at St Peter’s Church in aid of The African Children’s Choir (a touring group of Ugandan orphans).

** Tickets have now sold out**

If you haven’t got a ticket you can still support St Marys Kimbo School (Burhill Primary’s sister school) via this JustGiving page setup by Hersham mum Ashley Lovell!

https://www.justgiving.com/stmarysuganda

This short video shows just how important, and how well spent, every penny donated is!

The African Children’s Choir have performed with Gary Barlow in front of HM The Queen and tour each year to raise money for fellow orphans before returning back to Uganda.

They travel all around the country so it really is a privilege to have them visit us here in Hersham.

We challenge you to watch this clip and not smile 🙂

You can see more of them in action here on YouTube.

Not only are they incredibly talented and touring for such an amazing cause there is also a very touching local connection.

You may not know but Burhill Primary School have a sister school in Uganda called St Marys and Burhill send old stock Burhill uniforms to the 380 children at the school (many of whom are also orphans) who have just one classroom, they have no electricity and no water supply.

Burhill School organised a raffle which funded some desks and a toilet block as previously the children just had a hole in the ground to use.

The concert on the 23rd of June is a fundraising evening for both causes (plus also money going to St Peter’s Church the venue)  where the African Children’s Choir will perform a concert being joined by the children of Burhill Primary School Choir for 3 numbers.

Shovell (M People) will perform along with attendance from James Cosmo (Game of Thrones/Braveheart/Trainspotting) and Adrian Mills TV Presenter.

Wine and refreshments will be served on the evening.

Any money raised on the night will go towards a water supply, bursaries for orphans and to build a teachers block next to the school to attract better teachers.

Please do buy a ticket and help support such an amazing cause – it promises to be a fantastic evening’s entertainment!

Prices are £8 adults, £5 children/concessionary and £25 for family ticket.  All welcome!

Ticket details available by emailing fundraising4uganda2017@gmail.com

 

We asked Ashley Lovell, Burhill Mum to Dillon Townsend, Year 2 to tell us a little more about the African Children’s Choir

I first came across The African Children’s Choir when I worked at BBC Television several years ago.  I had 13 wonderful years there working with a huge amount of people over the years.  However, the African Children’s Choir were a group of orphan children from Uganda I filmed who truly captivated my heart and mind.  I began at the BBC as PA to Esther Rantzen and went on to work my way up through the ranks on many other programmes ending as Producer/Film Director.

However, during all that time The African Children’s Choir were so fabulous that myself and another Researcher Simon Wilson on the programme couldn’t let those children leave our hearts so we both flew out to Belfast in a personal capacity after we’d finished having them on the programme to stay in touch and visit the children.

We had asked if we could bring the children treats/toys etc with us, but were told that this wasn’t encouraged because the children will return to Uganda the next year and not be able to have such luxuries then so they would prefer us not to do so.  Simon and I visited them and were moved by the love and warmth the children had and our hearts truly went out these wonderful children who have no parents in their lives.

While we were there, the children at bedtime stood by their bunk beds and said a prayer thanking Simon and I for visiting them and thanked God for their (second hand) pyjamas while we were there and Simon and I knew we couldn’t leave Belfast that day and not continue to do something to help these wonderful children and others like them.  Simon, now a Celebrity Producer on Strictly, went on to help them make a DVD along with our other colleague the TV presenter Adrian Mills from That’s Life, and I supported them with publicity opportunities; but I always promised myself that I would one day do more to help them.

I then saw The African Children’s Choir a few years later under sadder circumstances – at Esther Rantzen’s late husband, Desmond Wilcox’s memorial service where they performed.  Desmond Wilcox was a respected documentary film maker and he had travelled the world filming The African Children’s Choir previously with a good cameraman friend of mine Denis Borrow.  I remember at Desmond’s memorial seeing African Children’s Choir perform and seeing Sir Paul McCartney dancing along while watching on and smiling warmly as he did so – also captivated by the choir’s effervescence.

Many years later, 2017 –  and I’m lucky enough to have my own wonderful 7 year old son who attends Burhill Primary School.  I was involved in getting prizes for a school fundraising ball in March and we decided on the Ball Committee to give some of the money raised on the night to St Mary’s School – Burhill’s sister school in Uganda.  With my BBC background, I put together a short slideshow of photos showing where the money raised that night would go and this included images of both Burhill and St Mary’s School children.

Following the film, Burhill Primary School’s Head, Mrs Taylor said a few words about St Marys and I noticed one of those incredible stand out moments I will never forget.  I noticed that, far from the frivolity of a couple of moments ago with everyone happily enjoying the ball – the atmosphere in the room changed tangibly.  Far from lowering the mood in a negative way, I noticed that as Mrs Taylor spoke about the children at St Mary’s so eloquently, the entire room were completely captivated by her words and fully engaged.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Mrs Taylor talked about the fact the children had no toilets until Burhill funded them, no desks, no uniform, no running water, no electricity, only one classroom for all 320 children, the children in searing heat having to walk the equivalent of Hersham to Weybridge to get a drink of water – yet they were happy.  What they wanted more than anything was to be engaged with the children and families at Burhill and a simple letter from a child at Burhill writing about their life is what they would love the most.  Of course, the lack of resources for paper, electricity etc at St Mary’s makes a penpal scheme a challenge but we are looking at ways to overcome this.

As Mrs Taylor spoke, I heard gasps, I saw tears and all evening people were coming up to me asking how they could help.  Even my wonderful German friend Anja I’d brought as my plus 1 (a self confessed ‘non-emotional type’ not known for her fondness of children!), patted me on the back and said, ‘Ok – even I’ll say it.  Well done with the Africa thing’.  The Teaching Assistant from Burhill, Sandra, who had the initial link with St Mary’s too would talk about how the children at Burhill would come up to her after she had explained about the children at St Mary’s School and ask her quietly if there was a way for them to be able to send their pocket money or toys to the children at St Mary’s.  Everyone cared – and that’s a testament to the people of our fabulous community here in Hersham – not just Burhill (although they are phenomenal!), but Hersham as a community.

With my heroine Audrey Hepburn (known for her humanitarian UNICEF work) as my guiding light in most major decisions in my life,  I then felt it was time for my calling!  I got in touch with The African Children’s Choir and saw their UK tour was due to end in Chessington in June so asked if they would consider adding another date to their tour by performing in Hersham with an agreement that the proceeds benefitted both causes.  St Peter’s Church were wonderful in agreeing to host the choir, Burhill Primary School and their choir were fabulous in agreeing to join The African Children’s Choir by joining them in song throughout the event and my wonderful cousin Shovell from MPeople – one of the most esteemed percussionists in Europe, agreed to perform at the event on his bongos for his favourite cousin.

With a lot of help from some Burhill mums – Liz, Chloe, Bryony, Michelle, Fran – others too numerous to mention, and some celebrity pals of mine – James Cosmo, Adrian Mills and of course Shovell – we have managed to pull together a fabulous evening which will raise some much needed funds for these wonderful two causes plus help our own community by some of the money also going to St Peter’s Church to help reduce their deficit.  Burhill Primary have very kindly asked that their share goes to St Mary’s as they feel the need is greater there.

An enormous thank you to everyone involved, with a special thank you also to local businesses – Impress Print, A1 Lofts & Extensions and Hersham Community Centre who have been phenomenally kind by providing services free of charge.

Also to Andy Richards, esteemed Editor extraordinaire who edits programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing by producing an incredible film to show on the night of the children at St Marys and to Mick Hucknall for his support of the event. To all the parents helping host families on the night in their homes, help on the day or evening and cook meals for the African Children’s Choir, to Burhill Primary School Choir for joining this evening, Burhill pupils for their excitement as they pass the ticket sales desk and all the fabulous positivity from all corners that this event is drawing in from the people of Hersham – not least Nigel and The Hersham Hub for their fabulous support in helping promote this great event via this forum.  Last but not least, a special thank you to my wonderful son Dillon for allowing Mummy to be pre-occupied with other children for the past 3 months instead of focusing wholeheartedly on him.

There will be wine available on the evening courtesy of a donation by A1 Lofts & Extensions in Hersham so please do come along and join us for a fabulously uplifting evening on Friday 23rd June from 7.30pm until 9.30pm at St Peter’s Church in Hersham, celebrating the warmth and friendship between Hersham and the children of Uganda.

For info on tickets – email fundraising4uganda2017@gmail.com

 

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