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THE BACK STORY

Gold Ribbon

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting what I believe is an incredibly important cause; fighting an illness that has or will sadly touch many of our lives, in one way or another. The statistics show that 1 in 2 of us will experience cancer at some point in our lives. A depressing statistic, I know.

 

So, how did the Apart Project come about?

 

In 2010 my friend Nick’s sister died of bowel cancer aged just 40. Nick would share the news about Emma’s brave, prolonged battle with her illness with me on an almost daily basis. It was heartbreaking, and hearing about her experience affected me profoundly for a very long time. It still does.

 

To cut a long story short, I wrote some music and lyrics, inspired by Emma’s courageous journey, which eventually became a song entitled ‘Apart’. I did nothing with it for two years, until my Mother-in-Law, Penny, was diagnosed with breast cancer and sadly lost her battle in 2012.

 

Two weeks after Penny’s passing my Dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He lost his battle just two days after Christmas in 2013.

 

Since then many others close to me have fought or are fighting now. Heartbreaking doesn’t begin to describe it.

 

Given my experience with this awful illness in recent years, I have made it my mission to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK and, in 2014, I released the CD with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity.

 

The project has been funded by myself, and many kind-hearted musicians, individuals and companies have volunteered their time, talent and money, without whom it simply wouldn’t have been possible. I’m beyond grateful.

 

Conducting research into this awful disease is, in my mind, the only way we’ll ever come close to finding a cure, and I’m proud to be channeling my energy (and grief) into something worthwhile to support a charity that does such excellent, pioneering work.

 

Aside from the song, I have just completed a 6-year, 10 marathon challenge, taking in York, London, Edinburgh and Paris marathons; a challenge I wouldn’t wish on anyone, if I’m honest!

 

The Apart Ball (number 6 now) has become an important fundraising event in the calendar. Supported by countless wonderful individuals and businesses, the idea was conceived over a coffee with my pal Brett, back in 2015. All these years later, still with the support of some truly wonderful individuals, and our talented, selfless team, we continue to support this most worthy cause.

THE SONG

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‘Apart’ is a power ballad about loss, plain and simple. It took me a while to capture the sadness I felt about everything that was happening around me, but after a while, it all seemed to come together.

 

When I’d finished writing the song, I knew I had to find someone with powerhouse vocals to perform it and carry it off with raw emotion. Enter Michelle Lawson, an incredible singer from Liverpool who I happened upon on YouTube. I just knew she was the right lady for the job and was astounded when she said ‘yes’ almost immediately, given her own family experiences with cancer. I’m humbled that Michelle and many of the artists gave their time and talents for free.

 

We recorded 32 takes but ended up using the majority of the first, as it was so authentic and fuelled with emotion. Michelle really delivered and gave the song exactly what it needed.

 

I then sought to find the perfect musicians for the job, and recruited the talents of Simon Coles (score), Emily Pieczko (violin), Hannah Duff (violin), Natalie Halliday (cello), Dan Hawkins (bass) and Jonathan Howells (drums).

 

And of course, no power ballad would be complete without the signature gospel choir! Led by the incredible Rachel Modest (who’s just finished as runner up on The Voice 2022, as it happens), the 25-strong Wakefield Community Gospel Choir generously agreed to perform on the track. The sound they produce is just phenomenal!

 

With all the talent lined up, we recorded the song at The Chairworks in Pontefract; an amazing world-class facility led by producer and engineer Simon Humphrey who lists Culture Club and The Clash as his clients, among others. Simon was ably assisted by Tyler Roberts and Mark Scully.

 

Once the song was complete, Simon and I made the journey to London to have it mastered at the world-famous Metropolis Studios by none other than Grammy-Award-Winning engineer Tim Young, who was at the time working on the latest Take That and Elbow albums!

 

The song went on to win The UK Songwriting Contest in 2014 (Best Adult Contemporary Song), and was featured on a SKY TV series in 2016 hosted by veteran Radio 1 DJ Mike Read, and has since been published by the world’s largest independent music publisher, Peer Music Group.

 

In 2017, Music Aid, the world’s leading non-profit organisation (in partnership with music giant iTunes) named Apart as ‘Featured Overall International Winner’ and ‘Best Original Song’. I was also fortunate to be named as ‘Best Songwriter’ in the 2017 Music Aid awards.

 

Though my focus has shifted from pushing the song, it remains a massive part of my life and inspires me to continue my work for Cancer Research UK, through running marathons, organising charity balls and other fundraising activities.

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