Launceston Town pulls together for a mammoth fundraiser event

Lanson 4 Ukraine began as a germ of an idea from Gareth Brooker. He verbalised what so many people were feeling, “How can I help the people in Ukraine fleeing their homes or fighting for their freedom?” Gareth said, “I can’t do much, but I can play the guitar, can we put together a gig?”

Two days later the Town Hall was booked as a special donation from the Mayor…for just two weeks later!

A Facebook page was set up to start to raise awareness of the event and offers of help came flooding in. Dale Walters and Jo Catling started contacting bands and musicians and everyone offered to perform for free. That was the start.

Sponsors for the event, Tammy Nutley from Gateway Tile & Slate, Vron Walters from Smiley Happy People, Lee Sandercock from Tinhay Lifton and Dale Walters from Terry Graves Electrical got people organised and it was all go, go, go.

Food was needed and Aidy Harvey from Westgate Street Deli offered his services. A bar was needed and Richard ‘Ringo” Cole offered his events bar, Holsworthy Ales donated Beer, our lovely local town brewers Firebrand offered Beer and Lager, medics were needed, Adam Mann offered his Peninsula Medics company, all of this was free.

After a week there were enough acts to run continuously from Midday to Midnight, this was getting big. Lee Sandercock built a second Stage and Graham Sleeman offered to provide lights and a PA for it, and to run it. The main Stage had Route 2 Events running the huge PA system.

The next thing to consider was how can it be accessible to as many people as possible? It was decided to have free entry and something for everyone.

Peninsula Medics and Kernow Training solutions offered to run some free first aid training in the morning whilst the PA’s were set up. The staff from Smiley Happy People, Lifton Beaver scouts and Launceston Library were asked to organise some childrens activities.

Meanwhile in the background Tammy Nutley was gathering raffle prizes, Ukraine pin ribbons were being made, cakes organised, bunting, flags, crew hi vis, posters were made by Drea Boxall and put up, and banners were donated by MoreCreative and Protekt Safety wear.

The day came. Saturday 19th March

8 am a team of helpers started setting up whilst Aidy provided breakfasts. The first aid offer was bringing people in. We were off!

The room was set up for the children’s activities, they were offered facepainting, planting sunflower seeds, the national symbol for Ukraine, craft activities, lego club, tombolas and guess the name of the bear. The generosity of the families with young children coming in was overwhelming.

In the entrance there were tombolas for adults, a secret envelope raffle and a cake stall, the music started with our own town band performing outside the hall, the bar opened at 12 as the ‘Popchoir’ sang, they then proceeded to perform around the town with donation buckets.

The afternoon consisted of some gentle acoustic sets, ‘Adam Hinks,’ followed by ‘Jim Pates ‘on the acoustic stage, people were in, settled down and enjoying the entertainment. ‘Karl Jarvis’ followed and the Town Mayor was circulating. Then the marvellous ‘Countrymen’ set up on the main stage, entertaining with their humour and unique songsl, as ever, hugely popular and followed by ‘Joined at the Hip.’ The music was varied, it was fun and thank you to Mike Osborne back stage and Gra Sleeman the acts were seamlessly setting up.

For those who didn’t want to sit and listen or jig along to the music there was a whole room of stalls to browse, food to eat and competitions to enter. The team of volunteers were gobsmacked by the amount of money being donated, the stories being told from young and old about how they felt so helpless but this was a way they could make a difference. People enjoyed buying from Ash tree Pottery, Jolly Little gifts, Vanessa’s Ventures, TCDS, Bodyshop at Home, The Cake Corner and Memories in Wood and Immy was selling lamps and coasters. The childrens room was crazy busy and children were bursting out painted as spiderman, under the sea and butterflies, clutching prizes won in a lucky dip or on the tombola as the music continued in the main hall.

‘Mc2’ were an upbeat act full of fun and the beautiful voice of ‘Feenu’ mesmorised the crowd. Then Dimitro a Ukranian folk act played traditional songs on the guitar and sang, whilst the crowds got bigger!

Still people were buying draw tickets, food and donating money into buckets, our stewards were helping direct people and encouraging them to buy pin ribbons and share the word in town.

The pubs in town all agreed to have donation buckets throughout the day and evening on the bars, thanks to Linda from the Bell Inn, and collections were made in the town centre.

More people kept coming.

The Launceston College band ‘Minors Strike’ got people’s attention as the children left and the evening entertainment started.

‘Storm Comedy club’ got set up in the Guildhall ready for a couple of hours of laughter with people queuing up to go in.

Tony Butler, ex Big Country star and Jo Catling a London club compare were introducing the bands, ‘One Point Five’ started the evening music on the second stage and ‘Rudh’ rocked the hall getting people up dancing with their energetic set. ‘Jo C’ gave a beautiful set including her own version of Tom Odells, Another Love, a song often played alongside Ukraine tributes online.

The ‘Mighty Revs’ got lively in their Ukraine flag t-shirts giving an enjoyable set on the main stage with ‘Jeff ‘the Horse’ Horsey’ on the acoustic stage bluesing it out.

Then it was time for Gareth’s band, where the idea started. Many people had come to see the fabulous ‘Mary Can’t Sleep’ and the atmosphere was electric with people up dancing and singing whilst Gareth wowed us with his guitar skills, with a pot of tea alongside him. There was short break for Dale the drummer to have a quick drink and whilst some of the draw prizes were given out. Before the final act of the evening came on. Local band ‘9ine’ were headlining, consisting of Kate Tucker with her amazing voice, Gra Sleeman on Guitar, Kenny Hodge on Bass and Dale at the back on his Drums. Crowds were dancing and enjoying a few beers and still the money was flowing in.

As people left they walked past the wonderful array of donated draw prizes hoping to win some of the big prizes. A holiday on a luxury barge offered by Tregulland holidays, £250 voucher to spend at Western Electrical, Signed Albums, posters and t-shirts from the talented Seasick Steve, A Jo Downs glass bowl, £100 pound voucher from LTB Blinds, or £200 worth of hair products from Craig Chapmans. Every company who was asked donated a prize to be won in the mega grand draw due to drawn live on facebook the following weekend. The team of helpers, most who had been there from 8am cleared up with adrenaline running high wondering just how much money was raised. The town hall steward was pleasantly surprised at how clean and tidy the hall was left.

The tickets for the draw continued to sell throughout the week and the following Saturday the draw was done live. Vron Walters did the draw which took nearly a whole hour due to the amazing array of prizes and Vron’s ability to talk to herself.

The fundraising money is still trickling in, pin ribbons being sold, donations still being made and the total stands at £7405.01 including £620.00 in the Just Giving page.

The money has gone to DEC Ukraine and UNICEF Ukraine.

 The Lanson4Ukraine Just giving page is staying open, details are found on our Facebook page. Also we are still taking donations straight into the bank account or via Gateway Tile and Slate, Smiley Happy People or Tinhay Lifton.

The little Cornish town we live in absolutely did us proud, everyone was there to help or to have fun raising money. Thank you all.

Gareth, Dale & Vron, Tammy, Lee, Anna & Ruth, Jo,  the Hoppers, Chris & Clive, Ann-Marie, Jenny, Shea and all of the helpers and volunteers. It was Epic.