In November 2004 a group of workers at the Jobs and Benefits office on Asylum Road decided to put together a night of music at the City Hotel with the intention of raising some money for a local charity. Several of them had been involved on the local band scene before that – indeed office manager Damien McAdams had played with the Knights and others including Siobhan Murphy, Aine Doherty and Rownan McCully had performed locally as well. The initial concert was so successful that it became something of an annual event, to the extent that they had to move it to the Millennium Forum soon afterwards to accommodate the numbers looking to attend.
To date the concerts have turned over tens of thousands of pounds to local charities and on the 7th of November coming the group are putting together a 10th anniversary concert with the entire original cast taking part. Compere, Lawrence Moore said that the colleagues were really looking forward to the upcoming charity night with Spruce House and the Sperrin Unit at Altnagelvin the two nominated beneficiaries this time.
He said: “It was a real twist of fate that so many talented singers and musicians happened to work in one place at the same time. The first concert was almost a ‘dare’ but the whole thing took on a life of its own after that. Most of the participants have moved on to other offices or different jobs now but they have been reluctant to let the initiative go. I think we’ve put on a total of 11 shows so far but it is the quality of the event that has won people over. Each act is as good as the one before and we have a troupe of Irish dancers from the Roe Valley that bring a real vibrancy and colour to the night. Obviously the entertainment value is all-important however with something in the region of £60,000 shared among a host of fantastic local charities in the past decade, that’s been the motivating factor”.
“Rehearsals have been under way for some time now and Damien has plenty of plans in place for the 10th anniversary show. Terence Morrison, John Harley, Tanya Anderson, Alan Healy, Rachel McCarron and Kevin Morrison will again join Siobhan, Aine and Rownan and the McGuinness School of Dance and we’re hoping for a bumper crowd for two of the most deserving charities you could find. We would also like to convey our thanks to Hugh ‘Badger’ McDaid, Cityman, McCartney Accountants, Derry City FC, North West cricket and O’Neill’s Sports who have helped support us so far to prepare for this one”.
“Incidentally the cast were joined by Stephen Kenny for a previous concert in the Forum and the former Derry manager said he was ‘blown away’ by the evening. Maybe if things go well at the weekend Peter Hutton might be willing to come along and bring the FAI Cup with him to make the night complete. No pressure Pizza…”