The kid’s school choir, take part in an event for the children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent, every year at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Children can join the choir from year 3 and this year both K and Lou have spent their lunch breaks singing their little hearts out, practicing to be part of the ‘Young Voices Choir’, a choir comprised of several schools, all singing together in a truly spectacular evening of entertainment.
I have to be honest and say that the thought of listening to mostly, other people’s children singing, for several hours, filled me with dread! I fully expected to be catching up on emails or a bit of social media interaction, discreetly in my lap, in between our children’s performances but I couldn’t have been more wrong! The evening was amazing, with several super-talented acts performing throughout the evening, we had a fantastic time and even made it into a ‘date night’ as an added bonus!
The charity itself is such a worthwhile cause and really struck a chord with me when a parent of a girl, the same age as K, spoke of her experience, having to deal with her daughters cancer and the support she had received from Clic Sargent. I was heartbroken to hear her story and saddened to learn that for every family that can be supported, there are two more than cannot, due to the fact that they rely on donations alone. When I shared the experience on Facebook later that evening, the reality of childhood cancer hit home even harder seeing that the mother who had spoken was also friend of a parent of one of K’s friends at school! It’s strange how, we tend to live life in a bubble and it’s only when you relate something ‘close to home’ that it really hits you.
When K was 7, we nearly lost her to appendicitis. Her appendix burst while on holiday and she was misdiagnosed for a week, leaving her in a critical condition. She spent five days in intensive care, following two life-saving operations and a further 5 days, before they would allow her leave the hospital and eventually fly home. Though this experience was hugely traumatic, once she was on the road to recovery, it was a steady road with no further treatment needed and we know that it can’t happen again now that her appendix have been removed. This is not the case for cancer patients and their families, where treatment can and does go on for years, completely changing lives, both emotionally and financially. Clic Sargent provides wholistic support for these families, whose worlds are literally falling apart, offering help on a clinical, practical and emotional level as well as financial support.
The Evening Itself
The children left school after lunch, by coach and spent the afternoon rehearsing with the other schools and acts. Tom Billington, in particular, was a huge hit with the kids- they haven’t stopped talking about him since! The conductor was also fabulous at bringing the children together (quite a feat considering the numbers and ages of the participants!), keeping them focused but having fun with them too.
We followed on later in the day, leaving the Boy with his cousin and aiming to grab something to eat once we were there, to try to avoid the traffic. As I’m sure many parents can appreciate, we rarely get out, just the two of us, so we decided to try to squeeze in a nice meal together, if at all possible! Once we’d checked several times that we were parked legally (I’m sure they make signs as ambiguous as possible in London!), we decided to eat at the Elgar restaurant in the Royal Albert Hall itself, hoping that this would be possible, as we hadn’t booked.
After taking a few selfies outside the venue, we made our way up to the restaurant, on the top floor, where a table was available, and we proceeded to peruse the menu. A waiter came over to take our order and explained that it was possible to have our dessert and drinks during the interval, when we could return to the same table and everything would be waiting for us- genius! No queuing at the bar or pushing through crowds, it was a no-brainer! Plus the added bonus of not needing to rush through our mains before the performance began. Dinner was lovely and we had plenty of time to find our seats, locate the children and settle down to our evening’s entertainment.
As I mentioned, the acts were amazing and included dancers (Urban Strides), singers and even a beat-box group (The Beatbox Collective) who were not only talented but so entertaining! They had us all joining in, learning to beat-box, challenging the audience to beat the choir (the children found that hilarious!) and finishing off with all of us participating in a rendition of ‘I like to move it, move it’! The whole cast of ‘Annie’ performed a medley that was basically the whole musical, shrunk down into an eight minute performance! X-factor’s Melanie Masson, sang a few times throughout the evening and a hugely talented young lady (Lydia Haynes) who had beaten thyroid cancer (with the support of CLIC Sargent), brought a tear to my eye with both her story and a voice you would not believe! The ‘Young Voices Choir’ sang several medleys on their own and supported the other acts as backing singers, they hardly stopped the whole time! It was obvious that all the schools involved had taken practicing for this event as seriously as our school, and the enthusiasm of all of them was evident in their dancing throughout the evening! Forgive me for not filming more but this really captures the essence of the evening:
It really was a fantastic night had by all and for such a worthy cause!
Over the Christmas period, around 350 families in the UK will get the devastating news that their child has cancer, words that I hope you and yours never have to hear. As I mentioned earlier, we live in our little bubbles where, though we feel for these families, until it happens to someone we know or are able to relate to, we do nothing. CLIC Sargent relies on public donations alone, they have no government funding for the fantastic work they do. If you would like to support them or learn more about events in your area, please click here to visit their website.