HITTING NEW HEIGHTS - Glenn Van Looy talks exclusively to British Bandsman

Issue 5977

FRANKLY SPEAKING - The first of a new series by Frank Renton, this month focusing on musical education

THE GREAT TRIUMVIRATE - Tim Mutum looks at the life and times of John Gladney 

Holdgate raises profile of 'Swab for Sykes'

Thursday 2 March, 2017

The brass band community are being urged to make a significant contribution to the effectiveness of a life-saving charity organisation, DKMS.

The charity, launched in 2013 with the key mission of registering life saving blood stem cell donors, came to the fore in brass banding recently with the news that Stephen Sykes, the former Tredegar trombone player, continues to receive treatment as he battles against lymphoma.

At the various Regional Championships over the coming weeks, players are being asked to register with the DKMS organisation in a ‘Swab for Sykes’ campaign. By registering and getting a package to undertake a two-minute swab which is sent for possible match analysis, many lives could be saved. Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as Leaukemia, Lymphoma or Myeloma.

Trombone star Kevin Holdgate has been a prominent figure in recent years in connecting the brass band movement to cancer related charities, and he appeared last weekend at the first of the ‘Area’ contests at Blackpool to get involved in the ‘Swab for Sykes’ campaign.

Kevin commented to British Bandsman: “Firstly I would like to give special thanks to Peter Bates and his team of volunteers from the North West Area for allowing us to have a presence and a prime position outside the trade stand area. I was really impressed with the professionalism of Lisa Nugent and her fellow volunteers from the charity DKMS for coming along and taking samples. A huge thank you is also due to the 64 people who took the time to come along and register on the day.”

Blackpool was the first ‘Area’ contest of 2017 and, therefore, the first opportunity to encourage support for the ‘Swab for Sykes’ campaign but Kevin feels that, while all registrations are most welcome, perhaps more of an effort can be made over the coming weeks to maximise the contribution that can be made. Kevin added: “There were over 2500 bandsmen and women in Blackpool competing in the various sections. Many I spoke too had already sent off for kits online, or had already registered, which is fantastic! Many of the people I spoke too were gutted at being too old (International guidelines say 55 is the cut off) to get involved but I was devastated by the attitude of far too many young people who either completely ignored me in their haste to be elsewhere, or stated they were too busy. A number simply said ‘no’!”

Kevin continued: “To those people, I would like to ask them a simple question as they go about their lives this week. ‘Take a long hard look in a mirror at some point and ask...if you had a brother or sister who had a life threatening illness and needed help... would you be too busy? How would you react if someone said that to you when it only takes 10 minutes to register?' Stephen Sykes, and thousands like him, needs our help. Let’s take action.”

Those wishing to register online can do so at: https://www.dkms.org.uk/en