General News

December 2020 News Update

Hospital Choir

Choir project

I'm really delighted to tell you that the single ‘You Make Me Believe’ the long planned choir project for the Queen Elizabeth Hospitals charity is now out and available to download from all the major digital platforms. Just follow the link and be as generous as you feel with your donation to this very special cause and one that is VERY close to many people's hearts during these troubled times on planet Earth.

This beautiful song written by Carrie Martin almost four years to the day has an accompanying video which I'm sure you will find very moving. I shed a small tear each time I view it. Very powerful stuff!

I know I have probably covered this in an earlier news item but its lovely remembering the day and the incredible journey this project has been on with its many twists and turns.

It all started about two years with a phone call from Cathryn Worth from the hospitals charity asking me if I would like to be involved with a choir project idea that would embrace all the four major Birmingham hospitals and would feature staff and workers therein who wanted to lend their vocal talents.

There had been a few false starts, the the first one being difficulties finding a choir master for the project until eventually we found Helen Clayton a very charismatic and lovely person for the project who committed herself wholeheartedly to the project. I can still see her now at the second of the rehearsals (yes we only had time for two) and she had lugged a rather large powered monitor all the way on the train so that the new backing track that had been created could be heard loud and clear. I would be on hand with my Viator guitar for the finer points.

To have had some of the best people in the business to help make all this happen was a joy and a privilege. Paul White to record and co-produce the track with me and Oliver Wakeman to contribute his stunning keyboard arrangements. To have Carrie Martin there at the recording session was just amazing, to lend her moral support and for everyone to see the person who created the song just added to the positive vibe of the day. Also a big thank you to Jim Waltham her bass player for contributing such a solid and melodic bass part to the track.

On one of our visits to the QE for a routine blood test Hilary and I were able to have a coffee with Cathryn to chat over the whole thing. I have a lovely memory of Cathryn's response when she first heard the final thing. Her words were.."Oh this is just proper" It still makes me smile at the memory!

The amazing thing is as Cathryn pointed out was "how come we recorded a Christmas song in February when we had plenty of time in the summer to record it" Well, thank the universe that we did because Covid struck within a week or so of the recording. If we had left it, this whole thing would have been destroyed for ever! My feeling was it was meant to be. I could write a small book about the journey that Carrie and Cathryn and I have been on to make this happen. The important thing is that through all the setbacks, the determination eventually won the day and a true testament to all involved.

Watch video and donate via Facebook

Buy on Amazon UK

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Watch video on YouTube

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Apple Music

Buy on iTunes

We have become good friends with the two major charity staff at the QE, they being Cathryn Worth and Alistair McIntosh, two very special people.

A final THANKYOU to Baptist minister Peter Worth, husband to Cathryn, for letting us use his church to record the track.

Our webmaster Sue also came up with the great idea of 'Virtual Christmas Cards' to raise the profile of the single and fund raise at the same time. For more info on her wonderful idea please click HERE

A final story to add to this magical project. When I was admitted to the QE for my last lot of surgery, I was visited in my ward the night prior by two specialist senior nurses Arlo and Lizzie. They were there to ask me if I would be interested in taking part in a clinical trial to choose the best antiseptic skin preparation prior to surgery. There had been two or three products to choose from and they wanted to narrow it down to just the one. I wasn’t sure how I could contribute but I agreed to help.

We got chatting generally and I told them what I did and they seemed interested. After my surgery in intensive care that came to visit me. We were chatting away and the conversation turned to music and they told me that they had just signed up for a charity choir project. The specialist nurse who was assigned to me that day overheard this conversation then said "oh yes I have signed up for that as well." The irony is that all three parties had no idea that this was the project I was involved in! What were the chances of THREE people being in the same space at the same time sharing the same project! This is truly taking coincidence a bit far don't you think! It is what Eckhart Tolle refers to as "the unseen."

I have had a series of remarkable coincidences over the past four years that just defy logic. Long may they continue to bring comfort to all they touch.

Troubadour Reissue on Vinyl

Things are moving along beautifully with the Troubadour reissue project. The bonus track ‘The Stars Look down on Linda’ which first appeared on the HEARTSONGS CD has been revisited and my good friend Nick Hooper has added the most sublime second guitar part to the track and has truly taken it to another level.

All that needs to be done now is final mixing of the above track and final mastering and compiling by Mr Paul Ward. The next step will be artwork design by the very capable Gavin Morrow who worked on 'The Last of England' vinyl and we are there….bish bash bosh…. job done!

As you may have read in the previous news pages that the album will be dedicated to the memory of the great Del Newman.

Teaching Via Zoom reminder......

Previously I mentioned offering my services as a session player on folks recording projects. I have so much enjoyed my SHARING DAYS over the last few years and it has always been my passion to pass on the knowledge and experience I have acquired over the past 50 plus years. I hate technology but need to get to grips with it so here goes.

I'm now offering online guitar lessons. Paul Roberts is a fine guitar coach and has been very supportive of me over the past few years and has offered to be the conduit for my future online guitar teaching. Anyone interested should contact Paul at the email and phone number listed below and he will give you all the terms and information you require. He will then liaise with me and schedule sessions and see if 'Zoom, Skype or Facetime' is the best option for us to use. All you need to do is get in touch and let him know what your specific needs are and arrange a mutually agreed time and we can make this happen. Obviously pieces to be learnt will be taken from the current list of files available for my compositions.

The other alternative is for me to give advice on techniques or players' own creativity and I shall help in any way I can to hopefully unlock and ignite that creative spark within them. Should you wish to purchase Guitar sessions with me as a gift for someone else, Paul will provide the details.

All enquiries about online guitar sessions should be made to Paul Roberts at or call him direct on 07860 648068 I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you face to face online.

Lockdown Thoughts

I don't know how everyone feels about the current situation apart from finding it very depressing. Hilary and I are very fortunate in as much as we have a comfortable home and nice garden. We have our shopping delivered, go for regular walks, take the car out for a drive to keep the battery charged up and I keep busy with various musical projects, composing etc. Also this time in this current pandemic has been a good opportunity to reach out to friends who live alone to give a bit of moral support and let them know we are thinking of them. Because of the lack of structure the days for us just seem to fly by and before you know it another week has gone! I get to the end of each day and wonder what I have done. Strange times indeed!

Ongoing Projects

There are other projects planned but more of that info later, but I can tell you that one little known fact is that my darling Hilary has always had a gift for words and over the years has written the occasional poem and recently two very fine songwriters have turned them into some wonderful songs. Once again more news on their progress further down the road!

One of the most significant of my projects is in progress at the moment and in my opinion probably the most ambitious and significant in this little old life of mine. Sadly I can't reveal it until it is virtually ready to be released. Sorry to be such a tease but it really is a bit special and totally different to anything I have attempted thus far.

New Guitar

I was given this beautiful old pre-war 1930's archtop guitar recently. It needs restoring and I hope to get it to that very gifted Steve Phillips up there in Fylingthorpe close to Robin Hoods Bay for his skilled gifts of restoration.

Steve is a master at this and like me likes the idea of bringing old instruments back to life so they can continue their musical history in new hands. A romantic idea I'm sure you will agree my friends.

Christmas Message

Well I think we all know that for many this year Christmas is going to be tad grim, and of course this just adds to the dark cloud that has been hanging over the planet.

I have never been a huge fan of Christmas (miserable person I hear you cry) because for many reasons I find it a sad time in the calendar because there has always been an air of expectation of joy and happiness that for many just doesn't happen. This of course will be magnified with all the heartbreak of the loss of loved ones to this terrible plague.

I'm sure everyone will be making the best of things and try all the usual means of communication via Skype, Zoom, Facetime etc and the telephone. Hilary and I will be keeping a low profile as usual at the moment.

I offer a heartfelt wish that all goes as well as it can this year for all readers of these pages and please God we can return to relative normality next year once the vaccine has been rolled out. But of course that doesn't mean we can be blasé because this thing is out there and will be for some time to come. The world has changed and we all have no choice but change with it.