Neurofibromatosis Association Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Celebrations - Jazz Weekend

by otmg on Monday 3rd September


The Odiham Jazz Weekend, organised by the local fundraisers for the Neurofibromatosis Association, was a brilliant success in more ways than one! Everyone will know that the weather could not have been better and this year the music on each day was, by general consensus, the best we have ever had.

Held in the Chalk Pit by kind invitation of Ted & Eileen Pither and family, Saturday was magical. As the sun went down up went the lights in the Chalk Pit, perfectly placed by RAF Odiham and soon to be joined by the moon creeping up over the chalk cliffs. Together with the excellent stage lighting engineered by David Eden and the wonderful jazz performed by so many top class musicians, who could have wished for a more perfect evening.

Performing were Dave Newton (piano) Simon Woolf (Bass) who kindly stepped in at the last minute in place of Andy Cleyndert, Allan Ganley (drums) and emerging saxist from Hook, Richard Shepherd. The special guests were Alan Barnes (saxes), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Steve Waterman (trumpet, Lee Gibson (vocals) and the legendary Frank Holder (vocals and percussion). For the special guests and Dave Newton it was an enjoyable return visit to the Chalk Pit. The audience showed their appreciation for the phenomenal talent and especially Frank Holder’s energy for, would you believe, an 83 year old!

Odiham Town Manager, Peter Fountain and Kestrel FM presenter Philip Hatto made the ideal team as compares for the event and running the raffle and auction. The mini auction was a great success with plenty of bidding for a tour of the Renault F1 Factory, a remote control Renault F1 Car, items signed by Fernando Alonso and Jody Scheckter and lastly spending an hour sitting in on ’Kestrel Daytime’ with Philip Hatto. These items raised a total of £800.

As well as being treated to the best jazz, guests had another treat – they were offered a delicious slice of a giant 25th anniversary cake donated for this special occasion by RAF Odiham. Carolyn Redman, Neurofibromatosis Specialist Adviser, performed the cake cutting ceremony. As it was a special anniversary for the Neurofibromatosis Association, there were a few other additional items organised such as special gazebo packages, which included table decorations and a bottle of bubbly, a special commemorative programme (some are still available if anyone missed out) and glow sticks for the finale.

As usual the fireworks were awesome and this year followed by a special finale with everyone joining in with ‘We’ll Meet Again’, led by Lee Gibson and the band. A colourful display of glow sticks added to this poignant moment. This will be the last Jazz Party & Picnic in this shape and form and at the Chalk Pit, but we already have ideas for a brand new event so watch this space!

Sunday was as laid back as ever and even more enjoyable than previous years. As well as the Phil Brown Swingtet (who have been with us since the opening of the first Neurofibromatosis Association charity shop in 1998) the Peter Clancy Band entertained the audience as they wandered among them, receiving a loud applause as they went! The RAF catering Squadron did us proud with an excellent barbecue, which received many compliments. After this everyone was offered special anniversary cake and not a crumb was left! Sunday’s mini auction, which raised over £200, was for a chef’s jacket signed by Ainsley Herriot, a trumpet and a signed book by Alan Titchmarsh. The raffles for both days raised almost £2000. The total funds raised will be in the region of £13,500 which is very pleasing considering the extra expenses this year.

The finale, with both bands playing together, was followed by a closing address and a presentation to Ted & Eileen Pither. They were thanked for their generosity in providing their garden for the jazz event over 5 years. Lastly, to the delight of all, balloons in the Neurofibromatosis Association colours were released into the wonderful Sunday sunshine and Peter Fountain invited everyone to make a wish!

Many people have expressed regret that this is the last Jazz weekend but they should be assured that we are not going away!

The Town Manager said ‘What a stunning weekend for Odiham, many happy people enjoying great weather and great music the Chalk Pit. Many thanks to all those willing souls who worked so very hard to make it happen. 'A team of dedicated volunteers, year on year, have produced a quality event and it is sad that this is the last but I know that the team will be back with something of equal quality”.

The team are proud to finish this series on a high and thank all their supporters and sponsors over the last ten years. There will be other events before the end of the year so we look forward to seeing you again soon.