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John Wal. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare man instrumental in Concert4Cancer fundraiser

A CLARE man has been instrumental in bringing together some of the country’s biggest musical acts to raise funds for The Marie Keating Foundation.

Quin resident John Wall, who has stage-four prostate cancer, is among the team behind the Concert4Cancer event which will be broadcast on Virgin Media One on Friday night (August 28), with aim of raising €1m for services around Ireland.

To-date Gary Barlow, Gavin James, Kodaline, Nathan Carter, Paddy Casey, Lisa McHugh, Hot House Flowers, Brian Kennedy, Lisa Lamb and a host of other stars, have recorded performances for the event. Their performances will be interspersed with messages from Mr Wall, Vicky Phelan, Stephen Teap and others affected by cancer. The event will be hosted by Anna Daly who will update audiences on live fundraising. The concert, which is sponsored by Permanent TSB, will also include a special performance from Riverdance to mark the 25th anniversary of its inaugural performance at Eurovision.

“The work of the Marie Keating Foundation is not limited to the East Coast,” Mr Wall said. “It provides facilities the length and breadth of Ireland, through its mobile advice unit and its different programmes. Fund-raising has been decimated by Covid-19 and funds are down around 40%. Its Comfort Fund, which helps people with the costs associated with a cancer diagnosis, has had to be suspended this year and in 2019 alone, that supported more than 650 families.”

Speaking at the Choirs for Cancer event at University College Dublin (UCD) in February brought Mr Wall into contact with the Waterford-based Mount Sion Choir, which celebrates diversity and inclusion through music. “They performed ‘Don’t Give up on Me’ by Andy Grammar and dedicated to me. It was incredibly moving. I began to think that maybe there was an opportunity to raise funds for the foundation by connecting them with the choir. The original plan was for an event on Facebook live, but, with the help of Robert Brown of Oatlands College in Waterford, whose address book is a ‘who’s who’ of the entertainment world, things really snowballed. 10 Central Media came on board and Virgin Media and Permanent TSB and there’s been incredible good will and a huge amount of hard work to get ready for Friday night.”

Working within the Covid-19 restrictions hasn’t been without its challenges and Mr Wall described the event as “a miracle” in itself. “Logistically, this has been complex,” he said. “We would have loved a telethon-style event, but for social distancing, performances had to be pre-recorded separately. Getting Riverdance members together at Slane Castle produced a really special performance and I got to go along to see Mount Sion performing their part of a duet which was created with Ronan Keating. I can’t reveal what song they performed, but It’s really going to add to the show. It will be such a special night, one that everybody will be able to enjoy.”

On Friday night, donations to The Marie Keating Foundation can be made by text to 50300 and online at mariekeating.ie.

About Fiona McGarry

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Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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