A plucky corps of nearly a hundred Sunshine Coast musicians gathered in Sechelt on May 15 for a concert to buoy an organization providing succour to people at the end of life.
The sold-out event at the Chatelech Secondary School auditorium was the brainchild of Lynne and Reg Dickson, who have run music courses for 50 years on the Sunshine Coast. The couple formed a team to marshall contributions for this month’s Hike for Hospice, a fundraising initiative of the Sunshine Coast Hospice Society.
Lynne dubbed her team “Uke for Hospice.” The name is an homage to her newfound passion for the four-stringed instrument. “Each year Reg and I raise money for many different causes,” said Lynne. “The food bank was the recipient of proceeds from our last Christmas concert and our other effort last year was a huge clothing drive for transition house and Arrowhead. Our living room was full! Our motto is: let’s make enough money to pay the bills and then share with our community.”
The two-hour program at Chatelech included numbers by Dickson’s ukulele group, The Mother Pluckers. Fiddlers Wild, a youth ensemble, also performed seven dynamic numbers. Its juniormost players gripped the necks of their instruments with one hand while bowing determinedly with the other.
The Fiddlers Wild ensemble is led by Sara Munson and Sara Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, who kept the energetic musicians in time by beating a stolid tattoo on a bass drum, later returned to play a ballad drenched in ethereal electronic echo.
Two community ukulele groups — the Beachcombers Ukulele Group Singers, based in Roberts Creek, and the Pender Harbour Ukulele Group Singers — joined the Mother Pluckers to strum and sing three numbers including I Think You’re Wonderful: “I think you’re wonderful / when somebody says that to me / I feel wonderful, as wonderful can be.”
Soloists Jill Shatford, Graham Walker (ukulele) and Reg Dickson (guitar) accompanied themselves on a selection of tender-hearted melodies. Dickson elicited chuckles from the audience with a wry tribute to the lonely plight of baseball outfielders.
“We’re thrilled because it’s these community-driven efforts that help us reach our targets overall,” said Ellen Adelberg, president of the Sunshine Coast Hospice Society. The society has five full- and part-time staff, and maintains two hospice suites in Sechelt’s Shorncliffe Intermediate Care Home.
The Hike for Hospice formerly took place during an annual in-person gathering in Davis Bay. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Hospice Society developed a distributed model: fundraising teams each develop their own definition of hiking. Adelberg’s own Halfmoon Bay Hikers are a group of women who have dedicated their twice-weekly ambles in the month of May to raising funds.
“Hospice touches everybody,” Adelberg said. “I don’t think there are many people on the Coast who haven’t either accessed or benefited from its programs.”
At the culmination of the Uke for Hospice concert, Dickson revealed that her team’s tuneful efforts have so far raised in excess of $7,700 for hospice, outpacing its initial goal by more than 50 per cent.
A total of 22 teams are currently participating in the Hike for Hospice campaign, which concludes on June 10. Team statistics and donation instructions are accessible by browsing to coasthospice.com.