M@HoT Needs Friends

Press Release, 1 June 2016

The Music at the Heart of Teesdale project is in its fifth year now and in that time, working with young people in the dale, the project has achieved a great deal. “We have established a very successful youth folk band, Cream Tees,” said M@HoT&rdsquo;s Mike Bettison. “We have revived the tradition of Longsword Dancing with a young enthusiastic team of dancers from the dale.  We have uncovered all sorts of interesting information through my research into the folk music, song and dance traditions of the dale.”

Cream Tees performing a set under the direction of tutor Ian Stephenson on stage at the Queens Hall, as part of the annual Hexham Gathering (Sunday, 22nd May, 2016).

Cream Tees performing a set under the direction of tutor Ian Stephenson on stage at the Queens Hall, as part of the annual Hexham Gathering (Sunday, 22nd May, 2016).
(Photo by Neil Diment.)

All these achievements, and many more, have been made possible thanks to the core funding received  from the Heritage  Lottery Fund via the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership project.

“Now that funding has come to an end. As a result, the future of the project is dependent on continuing support from elsewhere to maintain and develop our successes to date,” explained M@HoT project co-ordinator Neil Diment. “That is why we are now asking, through the good offices of the Teesdale Mercury, for support from the good folk of Teesdale to help us continue. I know there is a precedent here, one that goes all the back to the 19th century! Former editor Jim McTaggart, once told me about how the Mercury helped the Victorian lead miner poet, Richard Watson, in his hour of need by appealing to its readers to support him—so we are doing the same now!”

Bringing colour and movement to the streets of Barnard Castle: Teesdale Longsword Dance revival at the recent 'Day of Dance' in the town, 30th April, 2016 (Spring Bank Holiday weekend).

Bringing colour and movement to the streets of Barnard Castle: Teesdale Longsword Dance revival at the recent ‘Day of Dance’ in the town, 30th April, 2016 (Spring Bank Holiday weekend).
(Photo credit Neil Diment.)

“Through the Mercury, we are appealing for friends to come forward and support us, financially. Funds are needed to help us continue to bring young, enthusiastic professional folk musicians and tutors in to work with our youth folk band and lead our weekly practice sessions and workshops twice a term. We need help to pay room hire charges, and to take the young musicians and dancers to perform at local and regional events like the Hexham Gathering. The opportunity for them to experience and perform at such events gives our young folk a real boost to their individual confidence, and raises the standard of playing of the band tremendously as a whole.”

“We have already introduced termly fees to help cover some of the costs,” Neil added. “But, I know from personal experience, that some families really struggle to meet those, especially where two siblings are involved in the band. We are also very keen to support and encourage our young musicians to attend events like the brilliant Folkworks Summer School. The fees for that, though reasonable for the fantastic experience they provide, are not cheap. Likewise, last summer we took the young musicians away to a folk festival for the first time. We camped and had a great time, the band really gelled together for the week we were there. They did so well that they have been invited to appear at an even bigger festival this year, down in Sidmouth. But the costs of all this starts to add up for a family on a tight budget.”

Cream Tees performing at Towersey Festival in Oxfordshire in August last summer - and fundraising for the 'Thame to Thame' Nepal Earthquake appeal. This year we have been invited to attend an even bigger, more prestigious festival at Sidmouth in south Devon.

Cream Tees performing at Towersey Festival in Oxfordshire in August last summer – and fundraising for the ‘Thame to Thame’ Nepal Earthquake appeal. This year we have been invited to attend an even bigger, more prestigious festival at Sidmouth in south Devon.
(Photo by Jill McLachlan.)

“We would also love to be able to continue our introductory programmes of longsword dancing in local primary schools,” said volunteer tutor Patrick Langdon. “But we know their budgets are very stretched and they are unable to meet the even relatively small cost of such extra-curricular activities—even when they help bring praise to the school in their Ofsted reports! It would be wonderful if we could offer our programmes at a subsidised cost.”

Gainford primary school Longsword Dance programme - tutor Patrick Langdon points to a successful completion of 'the Lock' in the very first session on 11th May 2016. A performance is planned by the school at the Gainford Fun Day on the village green on Saturday 18th June.

Gainford primary school Longsword Dance programme – tutor Patrick Langdon points to a successful completion of ‘the Lock’ in the very first session on 11th May 2016. A performance is planned by the school at the Gainford Fun Day on the village green on Saturday 18th June.
(Photo by Neil Diment.)

So Patrick, Neil and their colleagues in the M@HoT project are appealing to people in Teesdale to support them in their work and, through that, their talented young musicians, singers  and dancers.

You can do this by:

  • Providing  a “one-off” donation. Any donation—large or small—would be most welcome. Anonymous donations can be left with the Teesdale Mercury shop on Market Place in Barnard Castle, either in an envelope or in the M@HoT donations box on the sales counter.
  • Offering a regular annual amount to support M@HoT’s  work, which might be in the form of a cheque, cash or standing order from your bank.
  • Alternatively, M@HoT can offer the opportunity for someone to individually sponsor one of their fine young musicians or dancers, e.g. by helping meet their termly fees, or with support for trips and performances.

Any donation would be really welcome and, unless it was offered anonymously, Neil would be very happy to individually acknowledge the support given, and—if appropriate—pass that on to the parent or parents of child or children concerned.

“We would also invite our supporters to join our ‘Friends of M@HoT’ group which meets three times a year, at the start of each term,” said volunteer ‘Friends’ co-ordinator, Rupert Ludlow. “In return we would send you regular news of our proposed events, a newsletter produced twice a year and personal invitations to our concerts, etc.”

If you think you might be able to help support M@HoT’s  work and help secure the revival of folk music, song and dance in the dale, please do get in touch with Neil. He would be very happy to hear from you and discuss any way that you might be able to support the superb work that the M@HoT project does with our young folk in the dale. You can call him on 01833 638263 or email him at: Neil Diment.