By Nikki Dake
There was a fantastic turnout of around 500 people for the Help For Heroes charity concert last weekend in Pissouri Amphitheatre. A unique event – organised overall by H4H supporter June Ainsworth – for an impeccable cause; a one-off programme which will, sadly, probably never be seen again in this format.
One of the organising team confided: ‘Musical Director Andrew Oliver had less than 10 weeks to choose his artists and rehearse. Pulling together such an imaginative and varied programme was a mammoth task for everyone. As always with such an event, the sponsors need recognition; then two weeks’ from the off, a new amateur singer appeared out of the woodwork with a poignant self-written lyric and one soloist was asked at the last minute to finish the evening with Land of Hope and Glory – a hugely difficult song which was delivered impeccably by Tina Chester.’
‘I was honoured to be asked’, said Tina after the event.
Tina was one of nine artistes who supported the programme, which included everything from classical arias through pop anthems through to a vibrant performance from ‘Abba Dabba Do’. Crooner Martin Rhodes opened the programme and, before rendering several Sinatra favourites, delivered the serious messages of the evening; thanking the sponsors, the audience and the VIP guests – including Station Commander Akrotiri, Group Captain J Linter OBE & his wife Anne and the Mukhtar of Pissouri, Christos Foutas and members of his family. Charges for the amphitheatre are waived for charity concerts.
The programme continued with three moving numbers from Judith Evans Davies, whose rich Welsh voice inspired the audience; the applause was rapturous as Judith donated her services and is rarely seen in such venues. Then followed a change in tempo as Martin introduced surprise performer Peter Hindmarch to sing his own moving composition Afghanistan (We live for them). Cue for more applause!
Kaela Santosh then created what was probably the island’s biggest ‘Mexican Wave’ followed by a long conga line snaking round the stage.as the audience, a little like lemmings, swarmed down the amphitheatre seats to join in to her last number Dancing in the Street.
A ripple of expectation greeted the Blevins Frank Champagne Draw and further murmur of approval came when Daryl Fitzgerald announced that his Paphos-based company would give €100 to the charity for each introduction of property with title deeds for a month after the Concert for Heroes. An auction of paintings followed, including two unique watercolour works by local amateur artists and a print of Vulcan bombers by military artist Geoff Lea.
The second set finally started uniquely late – ‘We never overrun!’ said Oliver – and the new-look ‘Abba Dabba Do’ entertained with 15 songs from the sell-out show which made its debut in Larnaca last month. The audience showed their appreciation by flocking onto the stage to dance and join in the final Abba classic: Thank you for the Music.
‘It was a truly inspiring and enjoyable evening’ commented one member of the audience after the last strains of Tina’s final solo had resounded through the amphitheatre. A wonderful finale to the dream which June Ainsworth has long held – a successful fundraiser for the charity nearest to her heart: Help for Heroes. The event made over €6000 for the charity.