When Port Isaac based group The Fisherman’s Friends staged their first major benefit concert at the Hall for Cornwall late last year, their catch of the day was a whopping £22,200 for one of their favourite local charities.
This week the chaps took time out from their busy spring UK tour to head back to the Truro venue to hand over this bumper haul to the Children’s Hospice South West – a cause that has become especially close to the Port Isaac shanty group’s hearts.
The charity’s Little Harbour hospice at St Austell provided expert care, advice and support for Seth Dickenson, one of the Fisherman’s Friends’ most devoted young fans, and his family during the final months of his short life. Seth’s mum Sam, dad James and older siblings Isaac, Arthur and Rufus were special guests at the concert last November, singing along with all the songs and shedding some tears along the way. The family were also proud to be there on Tuesday, alongside Children’s Hospice South West area fundraiser Sally Bridger, to accept the generous donation on behalf of the charity.
They were all surprised and thrilled by the final figure raised - enough to provide more than 1,000 hours of care for children in Cornwall and their families in their most difficult of times. Sam said: “It’s just phenomenal. Sadly there are going to be lots of other families in our situation and that money is going to really help support them, not only during the final days but for the months before and after.”
Sally added: “Children’s Hospice South West are so grateful to the Fisherman’s Friends for their continued support and for so generously giving their time to stage the charity concert at the Hall for Cornwall. It was a truly wonderful show that raised an extraordinary amount for the hospice.”
Seth and his family found joy and comfort in listening to the Fisherman’s Friends’ songs when he became terminally ill, with the track No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues becoming an unofficial anthem. Friends of the family invited the group to Little Harbour just a few months before his death in May 2021, aged just seven, and the chaps were delighted to sing some of Seth’s favourite shanty songs for him. This emotional but uplifting socially distanced encounter during the pandemic inspired the group to forge ahead with plans to return to their big-hearted roots and put on a charity performance.
Fisherman’s Friends singer and accordion player Jason Nicholas said: “Singing for Seth at the hospice that night really opened our eyes to what a big thing they do for families and it made total sense for us to support them. I know what we did made a huge difference for Seth and his family. The guys at Children’s Hospice South West are doing that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we take our hats off to them. The work they do is second to none.
“It was very emotional doing the gig on the stage in our ‘own’ theatre – Hall for Cornwall – knowing there were people out there in the audience who were hurting quite a bit. A lot of people donated their time and professionalism to pull it off and everyone in our team was delighted to be involved. I’m really proud of what we have done. Cornwall has supported us and it is nice to be able to give a little bit back to Cornwall.”
The presentation at Hall for Cornwall coincided with the opening night of the hugely successful Fisherman’s Friends the Musical at Hall for Cornwall, where it premiered in 2021 before touring the country and venues in Canada. Members of the group made a surprise appearance on stage with the cast at the end of the show, delivering a rousing ensemble rendition of Cornwall My Home. The show runs until April 22. Box office 01872 262466.