RELATIVES grieving the loss of a loved one were among those gathered for the poignant launch of a charity single by Coventry’s MOBO Award-nominated musician Sandra Godley.
National Grief Awareness Day on Monday (August 30th) marked the release of My Darling which is raising funds and awareness for three local charities in the wake of the pandemic – Surviving Bereavement, Molly Olly’s Wishes and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.
In collaboration with Surviving Bereavement Founder Tracey McAtamney from Balsall Common, the event included a minute’s silence and the release of 100 white balloons bearing emotional messages, from the roof of The Telegraph Hotel in Coventry.
Specially invited guests included Roy Hemmings, formerly of The Drifters, who lost his brother Neville in April last year. My Darling will be played at a memorial for Neville in Birmingham tomorrow. (Friday Sept 10th)
Also releasing a balloon, in memory of her daughter Emelia, was Jessica Weeks and her family, from Coventry. Emelia’s died in 2017 less than one hour after being born with spina bifida and anencephaly. Jessica went on to establish Hannah’s House, a charity which provides support after the loss of a sibling to neonatal death, miscarriage and stillbirth. (See accompanying Case Study here)
My Darling is a particularly heartfelt piece of work for the Bristol-born musician, Sandra, who is still grieving the loss of her own aunt to the virus in April last year.
She said following the launch: “I am delighted that the song ‘My Darling’ is now finally released. I’ve been carrying the words of the song for over a year now.
“It was such an incredible time to be amongst friends and family on a very special day, Grief Awareness Day. Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen. Special thanks to Matt Cossey for producing the track. I now want to encourage everyone to give what they can to the fundraising page to help spread the message of hope and I know the three charities involved will be very grateful for all donations received.”
Those who would like to donate more can now also visit a new fundraising page here
And My Darling is available to download for 79p from any of these outlets
Tracey McAtamney said: “The launch of My Darling and release of the biodegradable memory balloons could not have gone better despite it being a bank holiday Monday – people came out to remember their loved ones. It felt very personal, moving and heartfelt, especially during the one-minute silence, a time for reflection before the balloon release.
“The song is beautiful and I know is touching many. We are hoping that people will continue to download the song for just 79p or donate to the JustGiving page. All monies raised will be in support of those struggling with grief.”
With four successful albums and a clutch of awards to her name, Sandra’s proudest musical career highlights include singing in The House of Commons as well as creating and performing The Big Love Song as a wedding gift for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, joined by a choir of mental health ambassadors on BBC’s The One Show, in 2018.
My Darling marks a departure from Sandra’s usual soul and gospel style, instead following more contemporary musical influences to appeal to a wider audience impacted by Covid or otherwise-related loss.
The single’s producer Matt Cossey said: “Coming off the back of a global pandemic, this track has been really meaningful to work on, but also a real privilege. Trying to simultaneously capture the sound of grief and hope was a particularly interesting and poignant challenge, but I think we have managed it! I hope the track raises a lot of profits and awareness for the charities.”
Through the work of The Surviving Bereavement Foundation, Tracey McAtamney has helped many others through their journey with grief by offering legal and financial advice as well as practical and emotional support.
Tracey, from Balsall Common, established the Foundation 16 years after herself being widowed with two sons at the age of just 38. Her husband Tony had died suddenly in his hotel room while on a golfing holiday in Spain.
As part of the Foundation’s growth, she recently qualified as a Grief Recovery Specialist and the past year has also seen a huge rise in demand for her personalised Memory Boxes, which contain specially chosen items that celebrate the life of a lost loved one.
The record, which has been produced by Matt Cossey of The Nexus Institute of Creative Arts in Coventry, is being funded by an anonymous sponsor and supported by Alsters Kelley Solicitors.
Some of the proceeds will also benefit Warwick-based charity Molly Olly’s Wishes and local mental health charity Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.
Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.
It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.
Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.
Rachel said: “The launch of My Darling was a very special and poignant day. It is a beautiful song and the emotion behind it really highlights the importance and significance of being aware of the challenges that grieving families face. Molly Olly’s are extremely grateful for the support and thank you to Sandra, Tracey and everyone who was involved for including Molly Olly’s in this project. Funds raised will help us to support families at the saddest of times.”
Local mental health charity, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind is part of the national Mind organisation – delivering services and support for people with mental health problems for over 50 years.
Recognising the importance of listening to, and working with, people who have experienced mental health issues, the charity aims to provide support for those who live with and recover from a mental health problem. This can mean providing access to information, a listening ear, or providing more specialist support and services.
Steven Hill, CEO Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, also attended the launch. He said: “It was a pleasure to be a part of the event for ‘My Darling’ – a poignant song about the loss faced by many of us over the past 18 months and highlighting its detrimental impact on our mental health.
“We’re honoured to be one of the charities chosen by Sandra Godley. The money raised will enable us to continue our work – ensuring that no-one faces a mental health problem on their own.”
Watch the music video for My Darling here
Contacting the charities:
Further information about Surviving Bereavement or how to donate can be found here
Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found here
Further information about Coventry and Warwickshire Mind or how to donate can be found here