At sheringham paper, norfolk uk

@ Sheringham Community Paper - Issue 72 - 16 March 2007

Jefferson's Mandolins Tour Northeast England

On the 12th Feb. we took the road North to tour as much as possible of the Northeast. As many of you know this is where I hail from. I wanted to let you know about this tour because so many of you have asked and because without your generosity last year we would not have raised the 2,100 necessary for the tour to go ahead. Time to say "Thankyou".

We stayed in a nice Pub/B&B in Durham City. A pub I used to drink in when I was young. It was great to be back. All transport (minibus), accommodation and food was covered by our funds. This is important to me as not all children these days can afford such trips. Apart from my own contribution we have a paramedic and a headmistress in support (Tim Fiddy, road manager/driver and Jane Worsdale). We make a very good team.

Before each day began I woke them up at 7.00 with the bagpipes. Not at all popular but it did the trick! Breakfast at 7.30 and then on the road by 8.00. My aims for the tour were twofold. Firstly to give these youngsters from our community the chance to use and perfect their musicianship in tough areas of the Northeast very different from Sheringham and secondly to give the youngsters from these areas something beautiful and inspiring. We covered mainly schools that were remote and challenged and who were unlikely to see live music from a touring youth orchestra, as well as Churches.

Longbenton School in Newcastle was a good example where teachers are fighting on the frontline against all odds to do the best they can in tough circumstances. My lot were very quiet when we left such schools, having seen crumbling brickwork, boarded up windows and hearing that in one school they had an eleven year old heroin addict, very shocking for us all. Despite the gruelling regime of up to five concerts a day we managed visits into Durham and to the Metro shopping Centre, The Angel of the North and the village of Easington where the film "Billy Elliot" was filmed. Touring Teeside, Weardale, Newcastle and Durham gave the youngsters the chance to make a measured appraisal of what we know as "The Northeast". From my own point of view it was lovely for me to go back to where I grew up and still have one sister. From a musical point of view we achieved great things. Firstly, preparing a working repertoire of 23 pieces, managing a concert with two long sets, going through that professional barrier of immense tiredness whilst maintaining our own standards and achieving a very good balance between a hard pressed mandolin section in the face of a complete rhythm section firing on all four cylinders. We are currently bringing in new reinforcement mandolinists which will help the mandolin players already in the orchestra who feel that they've been fighting in Fort Apache for some time. Next year (they've voted to try and tour every year from now on) we're going to try and take a residency in Tenerife so you'll see us out in the street again. Any financial support you give us always makes the youngsters feel that they're doing their bit for the community and others.

On behalf of them all, a big "Thankyou" Tim Jefferson

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