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'Jingle Bell Brighton Rocks' Helps Combat Loneliness This Christmas

15/12/2016 14:58

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Image credit: Ben Turner

giving back

Though this year has had its low points, I personally have been moved by people's generosity of spirit. In April, my post about Brighton's elderly legend Disco Pete was met with incredible goodwill and encouragement - everybody wanted to celebrate his awesome passion for music and dancing.

And so we threw him a huge party on Brighton's seafront in September and called it Timeless - Brighton's first intergenerational dance event. We invited all ages and encouraged everyone to bridge the age gap and dance together; all the live bands played for free, musical equipment was donated and loads of locals turned up to show their love. It was a wonderful day and demonstrated how a shared passion can bring communities together.

Timeless raised awareness and money for Time To Talk Befriending, the Brighton and Hove charity founded by Emily Kenward that trains volunteers, matching them with like-minded companions aged over 65 to combat loneliness and social isolation. You can read more on what the charity does in my interview with Emily.

One of our very important guests at the event was another local legend, Dancing Ann, who wowed us all this summer with her spontaneous grooving to a street busker's version of 'Let's Twist Again' on Brighton's North Street, with the video of her dancing in a pink coat going viral globally.

Ann sings as well as dances, at Timeless she treated us to a couple of tunes and had us all singing along. But it didn't stop there. Ann is very ambitious; live performance just wasn't enough for her. She asked if perhaps she could record a Christmas song, so that people could listen to her in their own homes.

Our friend at Juice FM, Guy Lloyd, readily agreed and within weeks had pulled a few strings and got us studio time. He'd also recruited other willing personalities to sing along with her and we soon had a new supergroup, The Brighton Belles, featuring Disco Pete and Dancing Ann as our main stars!

Other vocalists include local celebrities of Brighton and Hove: Pete Bennett (Big Brother winner), Stephen Webb and Chris Steed, Louise, Alex and Carol Michael (Gogglebox) and Guy Butters (former Albion and Spurs footballer).

And so, without further ado, I am delighted to share Brighton's first Band Aid-style charity Christmas song with you - put your hands together for Jingle Bell Brighton Rocks!

You can download a copy of this colourful song for less than a quid from most music streaming channels such as iTunes and Google Play.

Every penny we raise will go to the worthwhile charity Time To Talk Befriending. Our mission is to encourage communities across Britain to befriend their elderly neighbours this Christmas. In Brighton and Hove alone there are around 7000 elderly people who live on their own and don't have any family or friends to visit them; as a result they are left feeling invisible, forgotten and desperately lonely.

Just ten pounds will mean the charity can deliver a homemade Christmas meal to an elderly person on their own. Charity founder, Emily Kenward, says: "We meet amazing older people every day who have a rich life history to share and we witness first hand how befriending can literally transform lives."

I feel blessed to have become friends with Pete and Ann this year and am so happy to share this Christmas song with them. It's heart breaking to think how many undiscovered Disco Petes and Dancing Anns are hidden behind closed doors, with mobility issues meaning they have less opportunity to meet new people. We want this song to remind people that even the smallest gesture of human contact can lift a lonely person's spirit.

To help older people who are alone this Christmas feel remembered and not forgotten please please share the music video and buy a copy of Jingle Bell Brighton Rocks!

www.timelessbrighton.co.uk

HuffPost UK is running a fortnight-long focus around helping others this Christmas. Giving Back will shine a light on the organisations and individuals making a difference in their community, tackling issues such as loneliness, homelessness, food waste and financial struggle. We'd also love to hear your stories.

To blog for Giving Back, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. To keep up to date with our features and find tips on how you can make a difference this Christmas, follow the hashtag #GivingBack.

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