Gala concerts give touching boost to complementary therapy charity

The Lavender Touch Charity. 'Sing Out for The Lavender Touch' concert in the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels.
The Lavender Touch Charity. 'Sing Out for The Lavender Touch' concert in the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels.
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A BORDERS charity which provides free complementary therapy treatments for cancer sufferers received a massive boost last week when hundreds gathered at the Volunteer Hall in Galashiels for a musical concert, performed over three nights.

As a result of the success of Sing Out for the Lavender Touch, more than 200 treatments will be supplied.

The extravaganza was brought together by Earlston High music teacher Jeff Thomson and stalwarts, past and present, of Galashiels Amateur Operatic Society.

There were excellent houses on Wednesday and Thursday and a sell-out audience on Friday for accomplished solo, group and ensemble choral performances of songs old a new.

The event was the brainchild of Sandra Aitchison, a past president of Gala Opera and a patient of the Lavender Trust, whose secretary Sheila Scott told us: “Jeff Thomson took up and embraced Sandra’s suggestion and threw himself wholeheartedly into the project. Without his great musical talent, it would not have been possible.”

The show opened with a world premiere of Just Call, written by Earlston High students Chloe Robertson, Emma Robson and Beth Murray.

The three had worked alongside Jeff, and Norrie Tait and David Thomson of Scottish Borders Council’s community learning department, to produce a CD of the song which raised nearly £500 at the concerts.

A packed programme included many highlights, from a towering version of the Miley Cyrus hit The Climb by the prodigiously talented Hawick schoolgirl Laurie Cockburn to a swinging take on Fly Me To The Moon by father and son Ken and Tim Lamb; from a rollicking reworking of Proud Mary from Alan Windram and Dawn Hunter to a touching rendition of the Dylan/Adele classic Make You Feel My Love by Lisa Watson. The 30-song programme, with a superb chorus and professional production values throughout, was punctuated by moving testimonials read out by cast members on behalf of those who have benefited from the Lavender Touch which was founded in 2003 and has since provided treatments to more than 2,000 patients and carers, aged nine to 90.

One grateful recipient of treatment had enthused: “The Lavender Touch has made me feel like I was walking at least a foot taller and feeling more human with my aches and pains gone.”

Sheila Scott told us: “Despite this being the time when Gala Opera would be rehearsing for its usual production in 2012 [Seven Brides for Seven Brothers], the members had dedicated all their spare time to rehearse and provide a wonderful and very moving concert.

“Everyone at the Lavender Touch wants to thank all who sang, donated and gave their time to help us continue this valuable service in the Borders.”

The Company

The girls – Katie Chambers, Laurie Coburn, Jazel Devlin, Awdri Doyle, Catherine Fletcher, Shelley Foster, Sarah Green, Kayley Henderson, Dawn Hunter, Barbara Johnston, Muriel Johnston, Val Little, Janet Maclean, Linda McDonald, Ruth Magowan, Andrina MacLellean, Julia Noble, Lisa Watson, Joanna Weir, Sheila Wilson and Wendy Wilson.

The boys – Greig Blain, Andrew Cannon, Clark Eaton Turner, Ken Frame, Graeme Howlieson, Mike Hyslop, Richard Jamieson, Neil Johnston, Ken Lamb, Tim Lamb, Ivor Lumsden, Norman Rule, Alaistar Waddell, Alan Windram and Kevin Winsland.

The Band

Keyboard - Jeff Thomson; keyboard – Jennifer Montague; drums – Scott Kemp; lead guitar – Jack Davenport; bass guitar – Kuang Myataye; pipe and drums – Murray Nairn and Chris Rogerson.

Production

Musical director/producer – Jeff Thomson; sound – Colin Hood; lighting – Tommy Combe, Rogan Inglis, Ross Kimber, Bruce Hastie and Malcolm Wilson; set – Border Studio, Selkirk; stage crew – Ian Sands and Colin Johnston; male costumes – Utopia Costumes, Dundee.