On the morning of one of the few sunny days we had this year the telephone rang. The caller said “Would your Troupe like to perform in a lunch-time concert in St Martin-in-the-Field in Trafalgar Square , London ?” Anybody with any sense would immediately and firmly say NO. However there is an impulsive side to Sunbeams that can thankfully and equally get us into or indeed out of trouble in the blink of an eye. We said “yes” and grasped the moment with both hands. This decision was swift and far reaching and was the catalyst for many hours of hard work, tears and much laughter.
Funding is the forge in which passion is tempered but without the generosity of so many organisations, Sunbeams would be mute and so many others would suffer. We have received amazing sponsorship from various grants and firms – including:
We are so delighted that the Troupe have been recognised in this way – for many of them it was the first opportunity they had had to go to London .
Yes, the Concert Troupe existed, but, if we were to take London by storm, it would be necessary to step up the overall standard of performance. This needed time, consultation and foremost the blessing of the actual Troupe.
We had a meeting with them all, gave them the date, and described what we all needed to do to make this prestigious event, a prestigious event. It transpired that a trip to Germany conflicted with our date, several of the Troupe are too frail, and one of the Troupe always went shopping on Mondays! (“But Annie, you KNOW I always go shopping with my Nana on Mondays!”) For them it was decision time, from which there was no return. After considerable deliberation twelve members found themselves available to attend, and then the slog started. Twelve was a perfect number - with just forty five minutes for the entire concert: more would have confused the programme as each member of the Troupe always contributes a solo.
In the weeks that followed we began to think that disaster was the reward and ignominy was the future with a perpetual commentary by the “I told you so brigade!”
Time, threats and encouragement eventually started to show an improvement that became so profound as to prompt the Sunbeams Musicians to decide that they too would benefit from a band rehearsal!
The fateful day marched ever closer with all its risk assessments, evaluations and quotations flying before us like banners into the field of the unknown.
Care staff, one to one, disability accesses, diet, medication, proximity of lavatories, (at all times) coach hire, coach driver, and oh yes the hotel in Berkeley Square W1!
The day arrived and the whole caravan embarked on the coach on Sunday morning, waved off by Peat Lane staff and Kendal MP Tim Farron, for arrival in London to include a sightseeing tour at tea time. Rooms were allocated, people settled in and a lecture on the folly of even looking into the mini-bar.
Dinner at 7.00 and after just one song, in an attempt to prevent the necessity to camp in the square, bed time arrived.
The following morning and after breakfast, with no major events, the coach was boarded and Trafalgar square beckoned.
Our arrival and subsequent ushering to the Green Room proved that the nerves and stress of the Troupe were not even vaguely apparent. They had at last been given a venue (and about time) that reflected the importance of people of their stature. The rest of us considered the appeal of running and or the rapid onset of a nut allergy. We set to and set up all the sound system, which is now quite complicated but necessary. A practice in the main Church was foreshortened by the very early arrival of an expectant audience.
The time arrived and an introduction by our wonderful patron, Bishop Laurie Green that was so complimentary, that we were obliged to overcome our nerves and anyway - it was the Troupes day.
The performance can only be described in awesomely glowing words. This was not an attempt at inclusion: this was a lesson in communication delivered by people who have been marginalised and only want to bring joy and humour to their audience. They are the teachers, and if we take the time to hear them they offer intellect, love and passion. They are examples of truly rounded human beings who were true Cumbrian ambassadors for Social Inclusion in Triumph and in Action.
St Martin-in-The-Field had a capacity audience. Where they all came from I do not know, but a standing ovation is only achieved when the performers are in perfect harmony with the audience and there is no doubt that this happened.
Cumbria accounted for its self in a way that has not before happened, and it is with thanks to Annie Mawson that this triumph was even conceived.
Michael Lawson – Johnson