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Great MINDS: A Celebration of Wellbeing

Lifestyle / Wed 18th Oct 2017 at 09:57am

Great Minds

Great MINDS: A Celebration of Wellbeing

A review by Nick Beatte – Sat 14th Oct

The Phoenix Live Lounge is an oasis of creative joy, a lovely versatile venue with a small stage, cabaret tables adorned with candles in bottles surrounded by comfy chairs.

Music greeted me in the street and host Ian Beckett, Mental Health Champion was on the door with his Mind in West Essex “pay what you can” bucket. He has made a reputation for himself for raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health provision and this event was no exception.

The evening began with Andy Thornton jamming and singing along to his acoustic guitar before the host welcomed the diverse audience to what he promised would be “An evening of music, mirth and mental health chat”. Andy was formally introduced and his daughter Cara Thornton welcomed to the stage where between them they took the audience through a cornucopia of contemporary music.

Ian explained how seeing Cara play at an open-mic night in the summer had sparked the idea of this event, particularly when she debuted a song that she wrote and composed called “Barcelona” a day after the terrorist attack on Las Ramblas. The haunting lyrics “This one goes out to people with bullets in their hearts, This one goes out there to the people with unfixed scars” were just some of the elements scrutinized by the audience.
The quality of the performers was remarked upon by many members of the audience, surprised to learn they were not professionals but people who had given up their time to share their talents for a good cause.

Anita Schultschik was no exception: better known to some as a science teacher at Passmores Academy, Anita delighted the audience with stirring cover versions of “Hello”, “I’ll be there” and “All of me”.

The thought provoking video of 17-year-old William Tennison narrating how his own mental health experiences had shaped and influenced his life was followed by the opportunity to chat with the young man himself and I was left in no doubt that that he is and will carry on being a great mental health advocate with wisdom beyond his years.

Anya Hennessy delighted the audience with a powerful rendition of “On My Own” from “Les Miserables” and Rosie Lawson gave the audience a taste of “Little Shop of Horrors” singing “Somewhere that’s Green” – both girls will be appearing in a production of that show during half term this month.

The evening also included a video about dementia: Tessa Harvey, who works for the Alzheimer’s Society in Harlow, put together a practice video following Dementia Friends training and shared it online for friends to provide her with feedback. Within 24 hours it had gone viral and has now been viewed over 32,000 times. Tessa, who professes to be unbelievably shy engaged with the audience saying “Don’t think of people with dementia as not having abilities. They have an ability to feel and to interact and we need to try and enter into their world”.

The customary raffle at these types of event brought the total of funds raised for Mind in West Essex to £116 and the atmosphere suggested a good time had been had by all.

Anita Schultschik brought the evening to a close with “Over the Rainbow” and if “dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true” I’ll be dreaming that these performers grace the Harlow stage again somewhere soon.

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