Topsham band fans raise money for good causes

SUPPORTERS of a Topsham band have collected more than �10,000 for a charity and hospital fund – a fundraising effort which started after the frontman’s young son contracted leukaemia.

Longdogs, an internet-based fans group of Show of Hands, an acoustic folk duo, has raised the money for Clic Sargent, the national childhood cancer charity, and the Paediatric Oncology fund at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

The supporters group gathered the money after it released a special CD on its own label which features a live show from the band at the Exeter Phoenix.

Eight-year-old Jack Knightley, son of Steve, Show of Hands’ frontman, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in November 2007, but is happily now well on the road to recovery.

Richard Barnes, from Longdogs, came up with the fundraising idea.

He said: “From the moment the news of Jack’s illness broke, not just Longdogs’ members but Show of Hands fans generally, responded with a fantastic show of support and goodwill.”

When the youngster was diagnosed, his singer songwriter father had to pull out of a nationwide tour with bandmates Phil Beer and Miranda Sykes.

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He did, however, manage to appear at two gigs – one in Bristol, where Jack was initially being treated, and the final show at the Exeter Phoenix.

Longdogs, after a ten year presence on the internet, works closely with the band to raise money for a number of charitable causes such as Children’s Hospice South West and Teenage Cancer Trust.

Mr Barnes added: “Jack’s illness brought the issue of childhood cancer very close to home, and this time we wanted to really make a difference.”

“We’re just a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs at Longdogs and we are eternally grateful to all the professionals who gave their time and expertise to make this possible.”

The 16-track CD, which features Show of Hands classics like Country Life and Roots Cousin Jack, was edited and mastered by Steve and Phil.

A Plymouth-based disc manufacturer processed 1,000 CDs free of charge for sale online and at gigs.

By January 2009, enough CDs had been sold for Longdogs to present the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital with a cheque for �5,500 for its paediatric oncology fund.

This was a sign of thanks to the Bramble ward, where Jack has received treatment.

The final 50 CDs were sold this month at Show of Hands’s own festival at Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens in Dorset and a further cheque, for �5,191, was donated to CLIC Sargent.

Alison Ramsay, the charity’s community fundraising manager for Devon and Cornwall, was pleased with the donation.

She said: “This is wonderful. The money will go into Jack’s fund for CLIC Sargent and make a real difference to many of the children and families we care for.”

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