A SCHOOL choir is aiming to reach number one in the UK charts with a song they are releasing in memory of a former teacher. Television presenter, panto star, and singer Jonathan Wilkes visited Cheadle Academy yesterday to help the school's Sixth Form choir prepare for their recording of their single 'My Oh My' at Staffordshire University today. The choir began singing together in supermarkets during the festive period of 2017, following the sad death of their teacher Craig Beverley who passed away in October 2016.
Since then they have raised an amazing £15,500 for the Dougie Mac charity which supported Craig and his family before he passed away after losing his battle with cancer.
Senior assistant principal Craig, who lived in Werrington with his wife Lisa and their daughter Katharine, was 46 years old when he passed away in October 2016.
Craig’s widow Lisa said: “We had fantastic support from the Dougie Mac, initially with palliative care and then he went into the hospice two weeks before he died.
“They were absolutely fantastic. When we went there, I didn’t have to be his carer, I could be his wife.”
Lisa, who had been married to Craig for more than 22 years, said of her late husband: “He was lively, funny, caring, and kind. He made me laugh.
“In terms of his teaching style, if he could make things memorable then people would remember what they were being taught.
“Craig always wanted people to be the best version of who they could be.”
Lisa was at Cheadle Academy yesterday for Jonathan’s visit. She said: “It’s been a bit emotional but lovely.”
Lisa said of the students’ fund-raising efforts in memory of her husband: “I think it’s wonderful that the students want to do this and I think Craig would also have been chuffed to bits about it.
“It’s amazing that they want to remember him in this way. It shows that they thought so much of him.”
The song ‘My Oh My’ was written by band members Stuart Duthie and Chris Cartlidge.
Craig had been the lead guitarist and provided vocals for the band Elvis Fontenot & Sugar Bees which took him on gigs to as far as America, Holland and France.
Alfie Walford, aged 18 of Kingsley who is studying History, English Literature and English Language, said: “The song has a country genre about it with a few twists and turns.
“Mr Beverley was really fun and he had a passion for music.”
With regards to Jonathan Wilkes getting involved, Alfie said: “It’s all a bit surreal. It was an idea of one of our teachers to to give a shout out to him.
“We put a video on our school Twitter page and tagged Jonathan in it and he replied.
“The teachers have been really supportive. We would not have been able to do what we have done without them.
“However in saying that they have let us guide this. They have dealt with all the red tape things like risk assessments.”
Willow Collinwood, aged 17 of Cheadle, who is studying Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Art A Levels, said: “We have raised £15,500 so far and I think we are going to raise much more.
“This has brought the sixth form a bit closer, and raising money for the cause has made it special for us all. Plus it’s enjoyable singing together and makes us feel good.”
During his visit to Cheadle Academy Jonathan listened to the choir perform ‘My Oh My’ and then gave feedback and advice on their performance.
He said that they were sounding great but that he could help with their performance. He also invited them to join him and his band on stage at the Dougie Mac Ball in October.
He said: “I wanted to get involved as I saw it was something different to the normal fundraising and it’s great to see young adults taking initiative.
“The Dougie Mac is a charity which is close to my heart.
“It will be good to get the choir up on stage with me and my band at the ball in October. I think it will be good fun.”
Head of Sixth Form Laura Allsopp, who has been guiding the choir, said: “I was absolutely astonished when Jonathan said he would be involved.
“It was our associate assistant principal Mark Clewes who suggested we should put a shout out to Jonathan, and within six seconds of us doing it, he replied.
“We are now hoping for a Number One with this single!”
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