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A three choir festival of fun: singing their hearts out in aid of cancer charities

Vanessa Lafaye at St Peter's ChurchVanessa Lafaye at St Peter's ChurchVanessa Lafaye has a special reason for wanting a very full house at the charity concert in St Peter's Church on Friday, 11 March.  

It is being given by the Marlborough Community Choir, The Magnificent AK47 and Mother's Jam to raise funds for the Brighter Futures appeal for the new radiotherapy treatment unit at Great Western Hospital and also for Men United - Prostate Cancer UK.

Vanessa Lafaye has survived two bouts of cancer and knows all about the daily journeys from Marlborough to Oxford for radiotherapy and how much having the unit at GWH will mean for patients: "I had to go to Oxford every day for five weeks - an 80-mile round trip through ice and snow - for a ten minute appointment.  It was exactly the last thing I needed at that point in my life."

For years she had sung in acappello groups, but after her first treatment for cancer she re-evaluated her life, trained as a singing teacher and formed the Marlborough Community Choir.  

They perform four times a year and have raised money for Home Start Kennet, The Jubilee Centre and Comic Relief (£5,000 over four years.)   Last year the Marlborough Community Choir raised £2,000 for the Brighter Futures GWH radiotherapy appeal.

At their March concert, she tells Marlborough News Online, "We really need to separate people from their cash - we're going to ply them with cake and drinks and tempt them with some really luscious raffle prizes - given generously by a whole variety of High Street shops."   

Entry to concert will be free and High Street solicitors The Merriman Partnership are sponsoring the event - covering running costs: "So everything we take on the night will go to Brighter Futures."

Among the raffle prizes will be a signed hardback copy of Vanessa Lafaye's first novel Summertime: "The book has done well - I'm very pleased."   

It was published in January last year and received a whole clutch of brilliant reviews. She is now working on her second novel, which is due to be published next January.

Vanessa Lafaye was born in Florida and 33 years ago came to live in Oxford.  She moved to Marlborough in 2002.  Why did choose Marlborough?  "It was a man - and his house was large enough for both of us - mine in Oxford was too small!" And she loves the town.

The Marlborough Community Choir rehearses every week in term time at St Peter's Church.  They perform four times a year - their most high profile engagement is their Marlborough Jazz Festival performance with Mother's Jam on the Festival's Saturday afternoon in St Mary's Church.

And Mother's Jam are joining them for this charity concert on March 11.  They are a Pewsey-based group who sing an eclectic range of music, but not classical.  

The other group taking part, The Magnificent AK47, hail from Ashton Keynes - hence the AK.  The 47 is a reflection of the average age of the group when it was formed - and they are, of course, magnificent!

Vanessa says the concert has been organised to make sure it will be a fun family evening: "The music is really fun - there's good comedy value in some numbers  - good for children."

But there is more serious side to the music:  "Singing was massively therapeutic for me - both times I was treated for cancer.  There is a real link between singing and good health - so it's apt we're singing for the Brighter Futures fund for Great Western's new radiotherapy unit."

Full details of the concert are on the Choir's website.

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  • Town-Hall-2011-05-03 08-
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  • Marlborough-2013-04-18 St Peters
  • Silbury-Sunset---10-06-08-----07
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