Monday, 3 April 2017

Summer Strumming Monday Missive #2 - 3rd April 2017 - A Sentimental Jourmey

The Road to Charitable Giving - a Sentimental Journey

Last week I touched on how hard the ukulele community all work to raise money for charities year round. Let me tell you why the Summer Strum chooses Wirral Hospice St John's to be one of our two main charity recipients.

Summer Strum 2015 was the last time many of us saw our friend Roz. At that time she had not been diagnosed with her brain tumour. Her headaches, fatigue and growing spells of confusion had so far not been thoroughly investigated by the NHS; and by the time she went privately to Walton Neurological Centre for a scan, the tumour that had been the cause of all these symptoms had grown too big to treat successfully. Often at the Strum that year you caught a normally exuberant Roz sitting pensively with her beloved dogs - already we had started to get the cotton wool out knowing that something was amiss. 

I saw Roz one more time after that in the downstairs room in her house that had become her bed/rest room. Her two dogs sat with her, protectively, sharing every precious moment they had left with her, as she chatted lucidly and philosophically about her lot. "I'm glad it wasn't dementia" she told me - typical Roz. We laughed, held hands, hugged - she was sad but maintained a cheerful front. She knew time was ticking.

Wirral Hospice St John's ( is a charity that provides care and support to patients, and their families, who have incurable conditions and are nearing the end of their life. They have a team of wonderful staff who work tirelessly to improve the quality of life of patients under their care. Everything they do relies on local fundraising. Roz was an active trustee for Wirral Hospice St John's for many years and it is here that she spent her last days in January 2016.

The loss to Roz's family was immense - a bright light snuffed out too soon. The WUO felt their loss - for it was our loss too. We really do have this family thing going on and the loss of a member left a hole in all our hearts. 2016 was a rather subdued year for WUO - we missed Roz (and still do). But she would have been looking down on us shouting for us to buck up and get on with the show!

This is what it is like for all of us ukulele players (and anyone in a group, whatever it may be) - with our uke families we laugh, we celebrate, we share, we meet new lifelong friends, sometimes we argue, then we make up, just like with our real families; and when one of us leaves it rocks us.

One of the main aims of the Summer Strum was to create a strong and supportive community made up of all our different ukulele families - to get together as one big happy family which then goes on to support one another all year round. Pat and I have met some really great people who we consider our extended uke family - and we have a great body of volunteers made up of members from many different groups (WUO, UCL, WUF, D'Ukes of Hazzard, Neston Strummers, Greasby Ukes). Without their help we would be gibbering wrecks and not the paragons of coolness that you see floating around the festival site come the beginning of July ;-)

And as our uke families are always looking for new members the Strum also provides a free, fun, inclusive and non-judgmental environment for everyone out there on the Wirral (and beyond) who has ever thought of picking up a ukulele to come along and join in. Come along, whether you have a ukulele or not, and there will be plenty of opportunity to give it a go and meet new faces. And to support a very worthwhile cause.

Peace and ukes

Em and Pat x

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