People’s Tenor John Innes on performing at the St Margaret of Scotland Hospice Reach Out I’ll Be There Motown Ball

John Innes has a singing voice so strong it can fill a stadium – or a busy city street, depending on where the mood takes him.

On Saturday evening, the man known as the People’s Tenor showed he is as capable of captivating an audience at a black-tie dinner as he is of enthralling sports fans or shoppers.

John, originally from Edinburgh, was performing at the Reach Out I’ll Be There Annual Ball as part of an entertainment line-up which included the band Motown Gold and the host for the evening, Hospice Patron Peter Martin.

For many of the guests, John’s rousing rendition of Nessun Dorma was the most memorable moment of another highly successful event on the Hospice fundraising calendar.

The singer, who now lives in the Midlands, has played some of the UK’s biggest venues, but his association with the Hospice came about when he returned to the low-key format that made him famous – busking.

Speaking to us after has stunning performance at the Radisson Blu Hotel, John explained: “I was in Glasgow visiting family. I busk when I’m here – it’s good for the soul.

“I was singing in Argyle Street and I was approached by a member of staff from the Hospice who bought my CD and asked if I would be able to sing at the Ball.

“It has been a great evening. The sound is great in the hotel ballroom and the audience are very appreciative. It’s a nice venue. The Hospice have been very welcoming.”

The dramatic and uplifting quality of John’s sound has helped him carve out a niche as a singer at sporting events and for more than a decade, he has been a regular performer at the home of Leeds Rhinos rugby league team – whose fans have affectionately nicknamed him ‘Operaman’.

But it took him a lot of time – and effort – to gain a profile high enough to share a stage with some of the biggest names in the business.

He added: “I sang at Glasgow Concert Hall 10 years ago after a friend dared me to try to fill it. I stood on the steps of the Concert Hall over a period of three or four months promoting myself and managed to sell out 2000 seats, raising £10,000 for charity.

“I’m most often asked to sing Nessun Dorma and Andrea Bocelli songs. It’s usually sports events that I sing at so anthems or anything inspirational goes hand in hand with that.

“I’ve sung with Rod Stewart here in Glasgow and also with Katherine Jenkins at the Millennium Stadium in Wales. At that sort of event, it’s fantastic being at the centre of all that is happening.”

The Ball was attended by hundreds of Hospice supporters who helped raise vital funds through an auction, which featured high-quality prizes including jewellery and a cruise from P&O Ferries, as well as a raffle, silent auction and tombola.

Sister Rita, Chief Executive of St Margaret of Scotland Hospice said: “We are delighted to have held another very successful Annual Ball.

“Our entertainment on the night was first-class and we thank John Innes for his performance, which had our guests enthralled from start to finish.

“The event was very well-supported by the community and local businesses, many of whom generously donated items to assist with our fundraising on the night.

“All of our events are vital in ensuring that we can continue to provide our patients and their loved ones with the highest standards of care.”

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George Hally goes the extra mile and more for his community

St Margaret of Scotland Hospice is privileged to benefit from the support of a great number of people with a personal connection to the Hospice, often through a family member or friend who has been cared for here.

The Hospice is equally fortunate to be able to call on the backing of people in the local community who go out of their way to help through volunteering or fundraising.

George Hally would probably come into the second category. But he also has something of a personal association. Working in a shop just half a mile from the Hospice, George often speaks to customers who are on their way to see, or have just visited, someone who is being looked after here.

After hearing so much about the standard of care provided at the Hospice, George, from Drumchapel, was determined to give something back.

The 35-year-old, who works in the Keystore on Yoker Mill Road, decided to take on his first-ever marathon, in Stirling last month, and thanks to the backing of family, friends, customers and colleagues, raised as incredible £1522 for the Hospice.

Completing the gruelling training and the 26.2-mile race itself culminated in an emotionally-charged run to the finish line for George on May 21. The race was on the same day as his late brother Kevin’s birthday.

Here, George tells us all about his experience and why he chose to raise funds for the Hospice.

How physically tough was it to run a marathon?

It was my first full marathon. I’d run a couple of 10ks. Towards the end of the marathon, once I hit the wall, it was really tough (at about 18-20 miles). And the blisters I got too… I ran up to 22 miles in training and didn’t get any.

How would you describe the day itself?

The course was really good but just a wee bit hilly! My family, friends and children were there at the end and it was really emotional.

What made you decide to do it?

I’ve worked at the Keystore for 14 years and I wanted to give something back to the local community. A lot of my customers have passed away in the Hospice.

How did you raise the funds?

I was hoping to raise £500. I used a JustGiving page and had sponsor sheets in the shop – people were coming in and making donations even after the race.

Do you think you would do something like this again?

I talk a lot to the customers in store and they’ve really supported me. I’ve been taken aback by everyone’s kindness. I’ll definitely do more fundraising after this – I think I’ll try to do a marathon every year. I started training on the first of January and I’ve been eating healthy – I lost a stone and a half. I’m going to keep the training going.

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St Margaret of Scotland Hospice Chairman Professor Leo Martin awarded MBE

Hospice Chairman Professor Leo Martin has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in recognition of his services to Healthcare and Education.

Sister Rita is absolutely thrilled for Leo and his family. She said: “Leo is a wonderful Chairman, totally loyal, steadfast, committed and always very active in standing up for the most vulnerable in our society.

“He has been entirely focused in his support for this Hospice, giving hours and hours of his time freely. Leo and people like him are those who deserve true recognition today.

“We wish Leo many Congratulations from all of us here at St Margaret’s.”

 

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Stephen’s heroic run in memory of “incredible” sister-in-law Amanda

East Kilbride man Stephen Connelly ran the Edinburgh half marathon last month in memory of his “incredible” sister-in-law Amanda Wright, who was cared for at St Margaret of Scotland Hospice.

We spoke to Stephen’s wife Emma – Amanda’s sister – to hear the heartbreaking and heartwarming story behind his momentous effort.

Since Amanda’s passing in 2014, the family have been involved in various activities to support the Hospice, including taking part in the Midnight Walk.

Emma, 38, said: “Amanda died at the Hospice in January 2014. She was in her early 40s. She’d had a brain tumour for six years and kept getting infections in her ear before she was taken in.

“The care she was given at the Hospice was wonderful. I couldn’t praise the people there highly enough. They made sure she was comfortable and that she was never distressed or upset.

“The way Amanda dealt with it… it’s just how she was. She was incredible.”

Stephen and Emma both work for ACCA, the professional accountancy body, and are originally from Milngavie.

They have a son Matthew, aged four, who played a vital part in the race day.

Describing the emotional occasion as Stephen, 34, approached the finish line on May 28, Emma said: “We were there to cheer him on. Stephen lifted Matthew over the barrier so that he could cross the line with him. Matthew was overwhelmed by it all – the crowds and the noise!

“It was all really emotional. Amanda would have found it really amusing.

“I was in tears and the end and I hadn’t done the run! I was so proud of Stephen. He worked so hard for it.

“Afterwards, Stephen was absolutely shattered. The race started at 8am, which is really early for a half marathon, so he had to be up at 5am to give him enough time to have something to eat.

“He had run one half marathon before, in Glasgow last October, before doing this one for charity. He’s been running for the last two years and has done a few 10Ks.”

Through his JustGiving page and other donations from friends and family, Stephen has raised more than £1200, which will go directly towards the care and support of patients at the Hospice and their loved ones.

And after the generosity shown by their family and friends for Stephen’s run – including from their employers, who Emma described as “very supportive” – they are determined to do even more.

If you would like to back Stephen’s fundraising effort, please go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Stephen-Connelly1

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The amazing family gesture behind our Grand Prize Draw

Like so many matters related to our fundraising efforts, our Grand Prize Draw came about because of a very personal connection to the Hospice and the work that is done here.

The fantastic first prize in the draw, a brand-new Suzuki Celerio car, was donated to the Hospice by the McKitrick family, in association with Phoenix Suzuki  in Paisley, in memory of their mother Mary McKitrick who spent her last days at the Hospice last year.

Tom McKitrick, who is the Car Dealership’s Sales Director, played a key part in arranging the fantastic donation, which will enable the Hospice to raffle tickets for the draw, with all proceeds going to the care of patients.

His sister Christina spoke to us to explain the family’s connection.

She said: “St Margaret of Scotland Hospice cared for our mother in the last few days of her life.

“The care and attention given by Professor Welsh and his team, the presence and prayers of Father Frank and the comfort offered to our mother and family gave us strength at such a sad and difficult time.

“We grew up with Mum telling us of the work of Sister Rita and the Sisters in Clydebank. We had been told of their dedication, compassion and care for those in need as death approached.

“We remember our mother’s words and we have been truly fortunate that Mum received such care and comfort.

“Our thanks and gratitude to Sister Rita and her team for caring for Mum and supporting our family when we were in need.”

We would like to invite you join us in thanking the McKitrick family for this truly amazing and touching gesture, and to support their effort by taking part in our Grand Prize Draw, which will be drawn on Friday, 31 March 2017.  If you already have tickets for the Draw, please return these as soon as possible to ensure your entry.

Tickets are just £1 and can be obtained in singles or in books – please contact our fundraising team on 0141 435 7018 or fundraising@smh.org.uk.

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Hugh and friends set to cycle all the way to Ireland in support of the Hospice

If you’re going to take on a challenge, you might as well make it a big one.

But even then, Hospice supporter Hugh Friel’s feat of cycling all the way to another country is an effort that really stands out.

Hugh, 54, will be joined by three friends on his bike ride from Clydebank to Kerrykeel in Donegal, Ireland on 1 April 2017.

The engineering firm manager, who lives in Glasgow’s King’s Park, is taking on the 270-mile trek to raise funds in memory of his sister Maureen Eileen Deeney, who passed away in the Hospice last June.

Hugh said: “It’s for a great cause. I can’t thank the Hospice enough for what they did for both Maureen and ourselves.

“Maureen had worked at the Hospice for 10 years as Ward Manager in the Mary Aikenhead Centre.  Maureen was cared for by her Hospice colleagues and friends and received the most overwhelming care. She was treated as if she was a queen, as every single one of their patients are.”

Looking ahead to the trip with pals Paul Stitt, Rui Rossa and Anthony Preston, Hugh admitted he will find the physical challenge of the cycle difficult.

But he will be spurred on by the emotional pull of their destination and the aim of pushing his fundraising total, which already stands at more than £1800, as high as possible.

Hugh added: “I hadn’t cycled in 35 years! We’ve cycled to Dunoon and back in our training.

“When we set off in April, we’re starting early in the morning and hoping to get to the boat in one day – it’s 90 miles.

“We’ll be staying in Belfast on the first night. The hardest bit will be the Glenshane Pass, which cuts through the Sperrin Mountains. We’ll be doing that on the Sunday.

“And by Monday we arrive in Kerrykeel. That’s the place where where my father and Maureen’s husband’s father are from.

“I want to raise as much as I can. The thing I’m looking forward to most is getting finished… and raising as much as we can for the Hospice!”

To donate to Hugh’s appeal, please go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HUGH-FRIEL

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Clydebank and District GC committee member Brendan Dillon tells us about two fantastic club fundraisers in aid of the Hospice

Clydebank and District GC

The Hospice runs a packed and popular events calendar throughout the year, providing entertainment for our supporters and raising vital sums to allow us to continue to offer the highest standards of care.

In addition to events organised by the Hospice, we are also very fortunate to benefit from the proceeds of events organised independently by our friends and supporters in the local community and further afield.

One of the top event-based donations we received this year was from Clydebank and District Golf Club.

Through an Am-Am golf day and a speakers’ night, hosted by our Patron Peter Martin, the club raised the wonderful sum of £11,760.

We recently caught up with club committee member Brendan Dillon, who told us a little more about the two events, held on separate days earlier in the year.

Brendan is pictured here with club captain Hugh Gravel and West Dunbartonshire Provost Douglas McAllister, presenting a cheque to our Chief Executive Sister Rita .

Brendan said: “Clydebank and District Golf Club have an affection for the Hospice – we try to do as much as we can.

“Our last three speakers nights have all been in aid of St Margaret of Scotland Hospice. I know Peter Martin well, he hosted the night and runs the whole show.

“Our speakers Bill Copleand and Paul Reid were absolutely excellent.

“There were 36 teams in the Am-Am. It went really well. We ran it in conjunction with the Hospice and Prostate Cancer and split the funds evenly between the two charities.”

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Michael sets new PB in fundraising – and in his race time

Michael Conroy

As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good time to look back and show our appreciation to the people who have gone to great lengths to raise funds for the Hospice, enabling us to continue to offer the highest standards of care to our patients and their loved ones.

One of those supporters is Michael Conroy, from Alexandria. Michael, 41, raised more than £950 through sponsorship for his fantastic efforts in completing the Great Scottish Run.

Michael took six minutes from his PB to finish the Glasgow half-marathon course in a superb time of 1hr 48 mins.

We spoke to Michael, who works as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, when he came to the Hospice to hand over a cheque for the sum of £962.50.

He told us why he chose to run for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice – something he described as a “humbling” experience – and how he motivated himself to train so hard.

Michael said: “My wife’s friend’s mum passed away at the Hospice in June. I heard about the excellent care she’d received.

“I’ve raised money for CHAS in the past but this is the most I’ve ever raised. There were people who don’t know me who donated through JustGiving.

“I’ve made new friends through this and have been supported by my excellent work colleagues.

“The fundraising helped to motivate me for the training and on the race day itself. I was aiming for sub-1.50 so I was delighted with my time. I’m going to do it again next year.

“The best thing about the experience was making the most of the day and appreciating how good it was.

“When you see all of the other people running for charity, it’s humbling. It felt fantastic when I crossed the line – I was over the moon.”

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Charity benefits after garden centre bosses say, ‘Play it again, Sam’

Sam Peoples

A partially-sighted pianist has been entertaining customers at his workplace to raise funds for charity.

Sam Peoples, from Duntocher near Clydebank, is employed part-time by Dobbies Garden Centre in nearby Milngavie, where he has worked for 11 years as a car park attendant and groundsman.

But the self-taught musician, 28, amazed colleagues with his skills when he took to playing the store’s piano on his tea breaks earlier this year.

And when a video of him performing attracted thousands of viewers on social media, managers decided to take him off trolley duty and give him a platform for his talents.

Sam, who is studying computing at Glasgow Caledonian University, was asked to take up residence in the centre’s café.

He is often given tips by his growing number of fans – but kind-hearted Sam insists that they are put in a collection bucket for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, the store’s Charity of the Year.

He said: “My boss’s pal filmed me playing on her phone and put it on Facebook and more than 30,000 people watched it.

“So they said to me that they wanted me to do it permanently because it brings so many customers into the store.

“I just play for my own enjoyment, I’ve no interest in doing it professionally.

“I’m grateful to the management here for giving me the chance to do this and to McLaren’s Pianos in Glasgow, who donated the piano to Dobbies.

“I’ve raised money for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice before, when I was at school, and being from Clydebank I know about the reputation they have in the community.”

Sam first played the keyboard before he had started school and briefly took lessons at the age of seven.

Although he played in his spare time in the years that followed, Sam only began playing seriously three years ago when he was given a grand piano by a relative.

He is unable to read music because he is blind in one eye and can’t see fully from the other – meaning he relies on his ear to pick up melodies.

Sam’s disability resulted from being born prematurely, weighing just 2lb 2oz. The retina in his right eye detached from the optical nerve when he was given oxygen to aid his breathing.

He added: “I learn much better if I just listen to a tune and practise. I play all sorts of music, from the Eagles and Elton John to Dire Straits and the Stereophonics.

“But I’ve had to learn some of the older classics for the customers in the store – things like Elvis, Sinatra and Patsy Cline.”

St Margaret of Scotland Hospice Chief Executive Sister Rita said: “Sam’s talent and dedication are an inspiration and we are very humbled that he has chosen to raise funds for the Hospice in this way.

“We would like to say thank you to Sam and the management at Dobbies Garden Centre for their continued support.”

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Students’ road trip is a roaring success for the Hospice

A team of five intrepid students and lecturers from West College Scotland in Clydebank have taken on a Top Gear-style challenge across Europe to raise more than £800 for a local charity.

In two revamped cars, the group set off on the trip of a lifetime for the Motoscape Banger Rally, driving through 12 countries in seven days to reach their destination of Prague in the Czech Republic.

The quintet– students Allister Linstead, 26, from Knightswood; Christopher McKenzie, 18 from East Kilbride and David Henry, 29, from Paisley, accompanied by the college Motor Vehicle course’s curriculum and quality leader Alastair Fleming and technician Murray Miller – were rewarded for their dedication through donations to their chosen charity, St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, for whom they raised a superb total of £845.

They joined 29 other teams who took in the spectacular scenery of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia and Czech Republic before arriving at their final destination in the Czech capital.

But before setting out, the students, under the watchful eye of their lecturers, had to work hard to get their cars in shape for the race, which took place in September.

But the repair work, like the trip itself, proved to be an amazing learning experience for the students.

Allister Linstead said: “Getting to drive cross country was an opportunity we may never get again so I’m delighted I was selected to be part of the team.

“As a team we got on great, which was just as well given that we had to spend up to nine hours a day in a car with each other.

“There was a great sense of team spirit across all the teams and everyone helped each other when needed.

“We were fortunate not to have any problems with our cars but others weren’t so lucky. Murray came to the rescue of the MG team who needed a whole new set up breaks fitted at the side of the road.

“It really was an awesome trip and given the chance, I’d jump at doing it again.”

David added: “It really was a trip of a lifetime. For me it was all about the scenery and driving meant we got to see parts of countries that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to see.

“The Stelvio Pass in Italy was the most challenging part of the journey. The bends are so sharp that we could see cyclists falling off their bikes but luckily we managed to get through it unscathed.”

One of the vehicles – an out-of-use Renault Megane – was donated by Whitecrook man Michael Smith and required some serious work to make it not only roadworthy, but able to cope with a round trip of more than 4000 miles.

Michael had considered selling or even scrapping the car but decided to speak to the College because he knew of their Motor Vehicle department.

He explained: “I had the car for six years when the exhaust from the backend went. I got it fixed and unbelievably, on the same day as it was fitted, the timing belt went too.

“My wife suggested donating it to the College. I knew they had a Motor Vehicle department so I came down and spoke to Alistair Fleming, who was more than happy to take it off my hands.

“Later he told me about their plans to take it across the country as part of the Banger Rally. I was delighted that they were able to put it to good use.

“My wife and I are delighted to see it doing something worthwhile and it’s great to see the car with a new lease of life. Congratulations to all the students involved.”

Alastair Fleming, who rallied the group together for the trip, added: “It was a tough but an enriching challenge to help raise money for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice.

“The students were selected based on their achievements and qualifications, including having a full, clean driving licence.

“The boys put the skills learned over the past couple of years to good use. They’ve proved they’ve got the ability so we had every faith in them.”

The total raised for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice was raised to £1334, after the students’ Motor Vehicle colleagues organised a car wash event which added £489 to the donations for the Rally.

Hospice Chief Executive Sister Rita said: “The students and lecturers who took part in this activity have gone to amazing lengths to support us and we are truly grateful for that.

“It is wonderful to hear about the learning experiences they have had and how the local community and College have clubbed together to make this possible for them.

“And of course, we are delighted that their efforts in the Rally have raised vital and welcome funds for the worthiest of causes.”

The department were commended for their efforts in a recent lunchtime ceremony at the Clydebank Campus.

The JustGiving page for the WCS rally team is still open if you would like to donate. Please go to www.justgiving.com/WCS-clydebank-motoscape-rally.

Special thanks to JLC in Dumbarton, German Auto Care, Zero Seven Graphics, Your Radio and Clyde Kitchens for their kind sponsorship.

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