Charity fundraising brings orchestra to Buxton

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Picture by Nick Lockett

While driving across the Peak landscape to visit her mother, jeweller Pat Holland was listening to the 1812 Overture being played by the Hallé Orchestra and reflecting on when she had seen them perform at Buxton.

In what she describes as a purely self-indulgent moment she found herself contemplating how she could get them to return to the town.

That was eight years ago and since then they have performed at the Opera House three times and they will be returning for a fourth concert on October 5.

But that’s just half the story, for the event has also become one of the main fundraisers for the Blythe House Hospice at Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Not content with bringing the orchestra to the Peak District, Pat, who is actually anything but self-indulgent, masterminds the raising of the £20,000 needed to pay for the event so that all the profits can go to the hospice – a charity very close to her heart.

Since she started she reckons with the help of many people in the area she has raised in excess of £100,000 – an impressive sum by anyone’s standards.

“It took me two years to get the first charity gala concert organised and to raise the funds but since that one in 2008 we have had another every two years,” explained Pat, who owns J Sidebotham and Son jewellers in Grove Parade.

Her fundraising efforts have involved organising a variety of events from dinner dances, concerts in her beautiful home in Lismore Road, Buxton, and Chatsworth, the Hallé-een auction held at the end of October, to skydiving and marathon running.

“It is something I enjoy doing. Obviously it takes up a lot of my time but I am passionate about supporting Blythe House, which does such a lot of important work locally,” explained Pat who is also a trustee of the hospice.

“The level of care offered there costs a lot of money to maintain and they rely on volunteers and fundraising.”

Pat was inspired to get involved with the hospice by its founder the Rev Betty Packham, but having lost a teenage son in a car accident and been widowed twice she also identifies with the work they do in helping families cope with bereavement.

“I think you can understand why I might want to give all I can to help somewhere like Blythe House – it really is a wonderful place,” she said with conviction.

“When I first rang the Hallé and inquired about them coming to Buxton all those years ago they said they didn’t think they would fit on the stage. But I assured them it must be possible as I had seen them there years before. And of course they did manage very well and the audience had a fantastic evening.

“We always have a popular programme as we want it to be melodic and rousing. We want it to inspire emotion in the audience.”

The Hallé’s associate conductor Stephen Bell will be leading the orchestra on the night and the programme will include, among other pieces, Finlandia by Sibelius, Morning and Solveig’s Song by Grieg, The Sleeping Beauty Rose Adagio and Waltz by Tchaikovsky, Cockaigne Overture by Elgar, Rutter’s Suite for Strings, Debussy’s Claire De Lune and Walton’s Henry V Suite. The encore will be Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March.

To help raise funds you can sponsor a musician for £200 and get a mention in the programme as well as complimentary drinks at a VIP reception on the night. Contact Lucy Marsden the hospice fundraising manager for more details. You can also donate your unwanted jewellery to the Gold and Silver Scrap fund Pat organises at her jewellery shop.

n Tickets for the concert are available from buxtonoperahouse.org.uk