Olympian Roger Black MBE was the special guest of Dan Eley at the Foundation’s Spring Benefit Concert where Godalming College students performed a fantastic array of musical genres to a packed audience, which also included the Mayors of Waverley and Godalming and representatives of Surrey Youth Focus, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Surrey Youth Services. The evening was compered by Tessa Duncan, an ex-student of Godalming College, who supported the charity throughout her time at College and has spent her gap year volunteering as a teacher and helper at the Founacion for the Education of All in Calli, Columbia with the Foundation’s partner charity FEDUT.
Now working as a television presenter, the British 400 meters champion, fresh from supporting Comic Relief at the Olympic stadium at the weekend, gave speech in full support of all the work that is done by the Dan Eley Foundation and his admiration of Dan who he met for the first time in July 2012 when Dan passed the Olympic torch to him on Godalming High Street.
“What he has achieved in the four years since then proves that when you have the spirit and determination anything is possible” Roger says and then adds "What is wonderful about this evening is seeing better-off young people, from Godalming College's music department, using their talents to make a difference to less fortunate youngsters in their own back yard”.
The music department at the College is well known for its excellent performances and the concert at the United Church, did not disappoint. There are over a hundred students who take part in music at the College in a full programme of extra-curricular activities supported by the music department. The Concert Orchestra, Jazz Band, Chamber Choir, Godalming Singers, the String Ensemble and a host of individual performances brought a unique flavour to the evening, with music to meet all tastes. Some highlights of the first half included the theme music from Downton Abbey, Don’t Stop Believing with a special arrangement by Music technology student Ross Hamer, and Hannah Hay singing Fever accompanied by the College Jazz Band. The final of the first half of the concert was led by Andy Duerden, a songwriter and musician who wrote the song Hey Traveller to raise money to fly Dan back after his accident in Columbia. The poignancy of his words couldn’t be missed throughout a photographic presentation of Dan’s journey from his rehabilitation to supporting young people in Columbia.
The second half started with a toe tapping trio of performances from the Jazz band followed by two beautiful choral pieces by Lauridsen which were excellently performed by the Chamber Choir and an arrangement by student Tim Feasley of the Super Mario Galaxy 2 Theme which was played by the Concert Orchestra and conducted by A level student Peter Fenech. The Godalming College singers gave an uplifting Don’t Worry Be Happy and Tears in Heaven before the guest soloist, mezza soprano, Hanna Poulsom performed Climb Every Mountain by Rogers and Hammerstein at the request of the Dan Eley Foundation’s Trustee’s.
Dan Eley led the congratulations for a wonderful evening and explained what a triumph it was for young people from Godalming College to give their time and lend their talent to raising money for other young people in Surrey who for whatever reason found themselves in a disadvantaged position. The profits from the concert will be used in conjunction with Waverley Borough Council’s Youth Support Team to provide opportunities and challenges for young people who are not in Employment, Education or Training to be part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
Roger Black had touched on the value of the scheme in his speech by saying “Self-belief and confidence so often stems from making a personal commitment to push beyond your limits..... and keep on doing that until you reach undreamt of goals. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is the perfect vehicle to give young people the opportunities to challenge themselves."
Supported by Dan’s mother Carolyn, Godalming College students have formed a group called the Friends of Dan which was led from its inception by Tessa Duncan. She handed the leadership role on to Ben Sheppard a current upper sixth student who is being sponsored through sixth form and university by the British Army and will take up his guaranteed place at Sandhurst in due course. The Friends of Dan raise money through events at College and support bigger events in the region such as the annual Dan Eley Quiz in November. Tessa has been a marvellous ambassador for both the College and the Dan Eley Foundation, she has worked tirelessly in support of the charity and was honoured to be chosen to compare the evening, just three days after her return from Columbia.