A local lawyer is co-organising a fund-raising night of music and revelry at Fiddlers in Bedminster for a school in Ghana with which she has special family connections.
Hannah Taylor, a 27-year-old healthcare advisory solicitor for city firm Bevan Brittan, along with her friend Lily Lunan, a 29-year-old charity co-ordinator and also the daughter of the school’s founders, are hosting the gig on February 28th at the renowned Bedminster venue.
Hannah is a family friend of the Lunan family and her grandmother, Valerie Dix, was godmother to Lily’s father. Valerie and her husband spent 10 years in West Africa in the fifties.
The idea for the event came about when the Bristol-based pair hooked up socially shortly after returning from Ghana. Lily mentioned organising a fundraiser locally and Hannah suggested combining forces to create a funk and fun kind of night.
There is an eclectic list of performers booked for the evening, including Mike Dennis – a classically-trained violinist rapper. ESPAI – a 4-piece live electronic band which fuses dark, pounding beats with grubby baselines and the powerful vocals of co-organiser Lily. Papa Le Gal – a Latin afrobeat, dub-funk band who have recently recorded a live session for BBC 6. There will also be two DJ sets – a soaring techno epic from Joe Farr; and a housey affair from DJ, producer and promoter Lukas, who has remixed for influential labels Futureboogie, Moda Black, Dirt Crew and FFRR. A tombola will take place with some enticing prizes to be won, and there will also be a Ghana quiz with a whopping £500 ASOS voucher up for grabs. The prize has been donated by the MD of ASOS, Nick Robertson, whose godmother was Valerie Dix, Hannah’s grandmother. He will be at the gig, along with Valerie’s other godson and Lily’s father David, founder and ex CEO of Fiorelli,.
The school Hannah and Lily are raising money for is in Awutu, an impoverished area of southern Ghana, West Africa. It is the only free senior school in its area and gives local youngsters, who would otherwise never be able to afford it, the chance to continue their education and better their lives. It was the brainchild of Peter Donkor, a Ghanian maths teacher who was working in Andover when he met Lily’s parents, David and Inez Lunan, during an event in their village and inspired them with his passion and drive for the project. Supported by a huge groundswell of goodwill and generosity by friends and business contacts, they kick-started the project and the school opened for teaching in October 2010, welcoming 105 students of varying ages and capabilities through their doors.
The school has provided a real boost for the prospects of the Awutu locals who may have otherwise floundered. Hannah said: “All of the students have been over 16 and some more than 20, having left junior high school with good results but few employment prospects because they couldn’t afford to finish their education. But what all these youngsters had in common was their excitement at being there, and their determination to make the most of the opportunity on offer.”
Lily explained that some interesting sacrifices have been made to get to the point they are at now: “Our original project manager, James Riggs, worked tirelessly, living in a chicken hut for over 12 months. He used to travel to Accra every day on a tro-tro, which is a dilapidated public minibus, and queue all day outside the various government departments to get the requisite licences, buying school equipment and recruiting teachers.
“So much effort and generosity from so many different people have brought us to where we are today, with a thriving school population of around 220 pupils, two classroom blocks and a newly-completed assembly and exam hall (named Valerie Dix Hall after Hannah’s grandmother) which was opened in November 2013, giving the school vital accreditation as an exam centre.”
Any funds raised during the evening will help purchase much-needed supplies and services for the school. Lily said: “The money will go directly towards the everyday running of the school – paying for materials to help with the infrastructure of the buildings and also helping to fund our neediest students with the most basic of things like the tro-tro fare so they can attend lessons and afford to buy a lunchtime meal.”
Tickets for the event, which are £10 in advance or £12 on the night, can be purchased from Bristol Ticket Shop, Fiddlers, We Got Tickets, Wanted Records, See, Ticketmaster and Prime Cuts Music.
The gig should be an excellent evening for a worthy cause.