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Celtic Connections A-list celebrate Scotland's unsung caring heroes

Celtic Connections A-list celebrate Scotland's unsung caring heroes

Celtic Connections are giving voice to Scotland's carers at The Royal Concert Hall.

Acts such as folk legend Eddi Reader, Hue and Cry and indie-pop Scots Admiral Fallow will take to the stage on Monday January 20 to play a special Concert for Alliance, raising awareness of the estimated 650,000 people in Scotland who care for someone with an illness or disability.

Of that community - which equates to a staggering one in eight of the Scottish population - 500 carers nominated by different organisations across the country will be invited as special guests to attend the concert for free.

illusivemcsorley

For one act in the line-up, Jamie McGeechan (aka Little Fire) the purpose of the concert strikes a very personal chord.

"It's a great privilege to be involved in this gig," said Jamie.

"I grew up with my dad working in the health service and I would visit care homes with him and see carers at work.

"My Mum also has multiple sclerosis, so I know first hand the important work that carers do."

Alberth MG

Jamie's Mum Rosie was diagnosed with MS when he was 14 and he and his Dad have helped provide care for her since.

"This is absolutely an important cause for me," said Jamie.

"It's terrible to see your own mum in pain, but you do what you can. This concert raises awareness of what carers do every single day of life, for friends and family and for others."

Jamie, who has previously played with Damien Rice as Little Fire, is part of a stellar Scottish line-up performing at the concert.

Admiral Fallow will play the Concert for Alliance.

Admiral Fallow

Speaking to carers

In preparation for the gig, Jamie will spend time with carers local to his home in Ayrshire to get a feel for what songs they might want to hear.

"I'm going to visit the Ayrshire carer centre before the concert, meet the carers and have a chat with them. I'll be taking suggestions for songs, because I want to play something that means something to them on the night."

The man behind the Celtic Connections Concert for Alliance is Tommy Whitelaw. He campaigns relentlessly for carers' voices to be heard.

Tommy has collected thousands of heartfelt letters from carers across the country, detailing their daily challenges and the emotional impact of caring, as part of his Tommy on Tour campaign.

A serendipitous meeting

A chance encounter with Mark Mackie of Regular Music Edinburgh sparked the idea for a charity concert, made to celebrate and raise awareness of carers through song.

"I bumped in to Mark Mackie in the street," said Tommy.

"Before I gave up work to care for my mum I worked in the music industry and Mark had helped me with some charity events.

"I explained the Tommy on Tour project and what I'd been doing and just by chance I happened to have a folder of letters from carers under my arm.

"He read some of the letters, and that chat turned into a concert."

Hue and Cry will play the Concert Hall as part of Concert for Alliance.

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Through Tommy's organisation, Mark's help and with the backing of Care Alliance, the idea for a carers concert has become reality, attracting major Scottish headline acts.

Upon Tommy's request, 500 carers will attend the event for free and will be invited to a special reception prior to the concert.

These carers were nominated by organisations they are affiliated with, such as Alzheimers Scotland.

Eddi Reader

"It's open to the wider public, but it was important that the carers were special guests at the event," said Tommy.

"As a carer, you rarely venture out - you don't get involved in thinks, you don't go out with friends.

"This is a chance for them to get together at what will be an emotional and amazing night.

"I wanted to find a way to celebrate the love, devotion and struggle of carers.

"Some of the acts playing have their own experiences to share, which I hope they share on the night."

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