It wasn’t exactly Glastonbury.
It was one grandad, one guitar and no microphone but Stephen Thompson sure made a positive impact on a lot of lives.
By singing 100 songs non-stop the 77-year-old from Lowerhouses became an instant hero by raising well over £1,100 for Huddersfield charity Ruddi’s Retreat.
The Meltham Gilbert and Sullivan Society stalwart describes his voice as “tired but not lost” as he kept crooning for five and a half hours during his vocal ‘Sing-a-Ton’ marathon at Rowley Hill Club in Lepton.
He said: “The total has now gone above £1,000 and with the money still coming in I hope to end up nearer the £1,500 mark.”
A retired teacher and driving instructor, Stephen trained for the stage in his youth and never gave up acting and singing with amateur companies. His most recent appearance was with Meltham Gilbert and Sullivan Society in 2019 when he played the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe.
Stephen, a light baritone, said: “That character has to be one of the most challenging of the Gilbert and Sullivan patter songs and singing it to an orchestral accompaniment from a karaoke disc was a new experience - a bit of a nightmare, you could say.”
His mega-gig was live streamed and you can watch it at https://bit.ly/3AbXFuz
Stephen first planned to do the vocal marathon last Christmas in Meltham but an outbreak of covid in the village and then Stephen catching a bug which caused him to lose his voice scuppered the plans.
He reorganised it for Saturday, June 25 – but was then admitted to Calderdale Royal Hospital twice at the end of May and early June after suffering a series of mini-strokes.
He remained determined to do it … and has now completed his ton-up singing quest.
Songs included The Floral Dance, We Shall Overcome, Blowing In The Wind, All Kinds of Everything and Those Were The Days.
There were also a few Christmas songs – including Silent Night sung in four languages.
Slaithwaite-based Ruddi’s Retreat provides free caravan holidays at the seaside for families with young children suffering from the effects of cancer treatment, life-limiting illnesses or bereavement.
The charity now has four caravans at the Primrose Valley Holiday Park near Filey and demand is so high with around 200 families helped each year they now need a fifth caravan and so are fundraising to buy one for £50,000. This one will probably go on the west coast near Blackpool.
The campaign has already received £5,000 from the charity’s patron, Sarah, Duchess of York.
If you want to donate to Stephen’s fundraising please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stephen-thompson76