Earlier this month, David Webb launched his 2016 #Carols4Cancer campaign. Below, he explains his motivation behind the campaign, how it’s developed over the years, and how this year is going so far.
Scroll down to find out how you can get involved.
Cancer is a word that resonates with so many of us, it has effected almost everyone I know in one way or another and in 2016 alone we lost huge names in the public eye to cancer, like Johan Cruyff and Sir Terry Wogan and in the classical music world Pierre Boulez and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
My first experience with cancer was about 10 years ago when my Mum was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and I saw the most important woman in my life go through the worst time of her life with Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy treatment. Since then I’ve had my own scare with cancer, my cousin was treated for it and many of my friends family members have also been affected by it. Thankfully my Mum is still with us today because it was diagnosed and treated early.
The same sadly cannot be said for my beautiful friend Polly Noble, who fought cancer from the age of 24 when she was diagnosed with early onset cervical cancer and had two other bouts of cancer before the age of 28. Polly passed away in 2014 after battling to the bitter end. She was the sort of human being that made you feel like you should be doing more with your life, she had so much passion, courage and a zest for life that made you doubt she had ever been ill.
It’s because of Polly and her energy that I created #Carols4Cancer. Cancer is an awful thing at any time of the year but the idea that some people would be going through the Christmas Period for the first time since losing someone they love seemed to hit home harder than ever.
I started to wonder how we could use music and our voices to make a difference.
It started off as a silly thing, an ‘Advent Carol-der’ if you like, where I woke up every morning from 1 December 2014 and before I spoke or drank any water I would sing a Christmas Carol and nominate three others to do the same. It was hugely embarrassing, with my voice cracking all over the place but I knew that Polly would be up there, laughing her head off that I was making a fool out of myself for her!
The next year I decided I should try and do a physical challenge as a caveat to the online Carols and Christmas Songs, so I rowed 1000 metres for every day that passed, which ended up being 300,000 metres over the 24 days and the equivalent of rowing the English Channel nine times.
It was during this campaign that I realised just how special the classical music world was and how it pulled together for the greater good, it was an opportunity for our voices and instruments to be heard and to use them to raise money and awareness of the work that The Institute of Cancer Research does. The Institute uses incredibly forward thinking clinical testing and trials with regards to how cancer is diagnosed, treated and cured.
Last year we had some truly international artists getting involved in many wacky and wonderful ways and it really spurred me on to think of something new for 2016.
In the first two years, we raised just under £5000 and so this year I wanted to try and raise £5000. Already there have been some fantastic videos uploaded to social media; Jamie Hall, the brilliant counter tenor used an app to record his voice singing 8 different parts to produce a beautiful rendition of ‘I’m dreaming of a White Christmas’, and Louise Alder and a group of friends performed a version of ‘Jingle Bells’ using half empty bottles with varying pitches to genius effect.
This year my physical challenge is a giant triathlon and with the help of the guys at Virgin Active UK, I’m running the equivalent of three marathons, swimming the English Channel and cycling the distance of Land’s End to John o’ Groats.
It’s a week into the #Carols4Cancer Campaign and physically I’m pretty tired; I’ve swum around 16km, run 35km and cycled 290km. My knees are taking a battering after having run the London Marathon a couple of times in the past, but every time my phone lights up and I see someone has donated to the cause it reenergises me in a way that I cannot explain!
My hope is that the Carols and Christmas Songs themselves really start to gain momentum and that becomes the main focus of the campaign (and future campaigns) and not my physical exertions, which are basically just a long winded way for me to nominate three new people a day to take part in the #Carols4Cancer online campaign!!
Music has an extraordinary power to change your mood, your outlook and in many cases, your life. I truly believe that we and the classical music world can make a difference to those people suffering with this awful disease. We can put smiles on their faces with our personalities and our voices during this Christmas season and we can raise more money than ever to help the Institute of Cancer Research diagnose, treat and cure cancer once and for all.
Now what a Christmas present that would be!
We’re pleased to be able to support David’s campaign, both through a donation and by singing some carols. Check out our Twitter account now for our musical donations!
All of us at Askonas Holt wish David all the best with the campaign, and hope that many people decide to get involved; whether by donating, singing a carol or spreading the word.
What can you do?
Sing a Christmas song, upload it onto social media, Twitter or Facebook, then nominate three others to spread the word of cancer research and the joy of Christmas through the power of music. Don’t forget to tag your carol with the #Carols4Cancer hashtag!
To donate, visit justgiving.com/carols4cancer2016 either on this page or Text CLCR81 £5 £10 to 70070.