By Shelley Marsden
Music school Meitheal Cheoil is holding fundraising ceili Teens for Teenagers for one of its pupils at the Haringey Irish Centre on Friday, March 14.
The school, led by teachers Kathy Walton and Karen Ryan, also Director of Return to Camden Town Festival, normally holds a ceili at this time of year to showcase children’s work in the lead-up to St Patrick’s Day.
But this year, the school is broadening its reach to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust, in aid of one of its students, 14 year old Flynne Ewart-Biggs, who is fighting cancer and currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
Flynne, who has been a member of Meitheal Cheoil since she was just six years old, and plays the tin whistle, the flute and the bodhran, was diagnosed with cancer in October 2013 last year. She is being treated for a brain tumour at UCH hospital under the expert care of staff in the Teenage Cancer Unit at the Macmillan Centre.
The Troupe decided that they wanted to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust to support Flynne and all other teenagers having treatment. The facilities and care funded by the charity are helping Flynne to cope with her situation.
Flynne told the Irish World: “It felt safe in the special waiting room for teenagers in the radiotherapy department. There were other teenagers you could talk to and things you could do–like your nails or cool crafts. The staff are amazing, too.”
Her teacher of old, Kathy Walton said: “Flynne is the troupe member who makes us smile, keeps us all cheery, year upon year. She doesn’t need to say much, but when she does it will be something perceptive, keen and usually pretty funny.
She added: “Never one to seek the limelight, she gets really excited about playing a particular tune just because she “LOVES” that tune or because it’s her “FAVOURITE” tune: the way she says it with such a big heart for the music and not because of an ambition to play it solo or anything more than just play it through with her mates on a regular Friday night.
“From a teaching point of view, it’s joyful to steer and watch a young musician fall for a tune, making connections with the music itself as well as the friends she shares it with. I’ve also had classes where I’ve struggled to keep her off trying to play everyone else’s instruments, like she just can’t get enough of it!”
The St Patrick’s Troupe is a group of almost 50 young traditional Irish musicians, singers and dancers aged from 6-25. Every year they tour the primary schools of North London with an educational programme about Irish heritage and culture.
This year, the troupe is preparing to perform to up to 12,000 school children within the short space of nine days, culminating in a performance from the centre stage in the Royal Albert Hall.
The Troupe performance evening at the Haringey Irish Centre on Friday, March 14 will involve various well-known figures on the Irish music and dance scene in London, and many ex-Meitheal Cheoil students. MC for the evening will be Gary Lilburn, who plays Father Quinn in the award-winning Mrs Brown’s Boys sitcom.
The St Patrick’s Troupe – Teens for Teenagers, Friday March 14, doors 7pm, starts 7.30pm, Haringey Irish Centre, Pretoria Rd, London N17 8DX. Tickets (£10 each for over 25’s) can be bought online at www.justgiving.com/St-Patricks-Troupe. You can also donate at the same link.