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INTERVIEW: Musician praises "incredible effort from community" as School Aid closes in on £20,000 total

Jay Blackburn, founder of School Aid

The founder of a music festival raising funds for local schools has thanked the community as the event closes in on raising £20,000 over six years.

Musician Jay Blackburn began the annual School Aid event in 2018 after watching a shocking TV news report about the poverty of children in a local primary school.

Since then the festival has gone from strength to strength, with musicians giving up their time to perform to raise money to help local schoolchildren in these tough economic times.

This year's festival runs from Friday February 9 to Sunday February 11 at The Exchange in Morecambe and The Bobbin in Lancaster, with money going to six schools.

They are West End Primary in Morecambe, Morecambe Bay, St Luke's at Skerton, St Patrick's in Heysham, and this year Sandylands in Morecambe and Castle View on the Ridge in Lancaster will also receive funds.

LISTEN to Jay Blackburn speaking on The Resident on Beyond Radio

He said the £19,960 raised since 2018 was "an incredible effort from the community".

The event raised £1500 between two schools in the first year, rising to £6,000 in 2023 between four schools.

"We try to aim for £1000 per school so they've got something they can do something with," said Jay.

"To hit that last year, and give them £1500 each, was great stuff.

"On that basis we've invited a couple more schools this year.

"When we did it in 2018, there wasn't a plan to do it every year. But I can't bring myself to not do it. You see what good it's doing the schools. So I can't see it stopping now.

"I know we shouldn't have to do it, but if what we're doing provides some of these children with experiences they might not otherwise get, then it's serving a purpose.

Read more: School Aid supported by Beyond Radio raises £6000 for local schools - Beyond Radio

"West End Primary School used their money from last year on making a new music area, and bought new ukuleles for the kids, which was great to hear."

Greg Lambert from Beyond Radio, Rob Ellershaw from The Exchange venue and Jay Blackburn handing over funds from School Aid '23 to West End Primary School head teacher Sharon Cliff and pupils Maisie, Alfie and Bella

Jay said that £600 has already been raised towards this year's School Aid from regular 'West End Soul Club' soul music nights over the year.

Here is the line-up for this year's festival, supported by Beyond Radio.

Friday: West End Soul Club, with soul music DJs Debbie Croft, Nigel Rothwell, Paul Johnson, Darren Mount and Jay Blackburn playing funk, Motown and Northern at The Exchange pub in Morecambe from 7pm. Entry is £3 for one or £5 for two people.

Saturday: Live music at The Bobbin in Lancaster, hosted by Beyond Radio's Phill Hayward and Silent Mark. It starts at noon and admission is free.

Live music comes from Rob Jones, Tom Woods, Graham Mumford and Keith Mitchell, David Woods, The Good Souls, The Manta Rays, Cadaver Beach, The Size, The Swim and Sold to the Sky. Organised by Mark Simpson.

Sunday: Live music at The Exchange in Morecambe, hosted by Beyond Radio's Greg Lambert. It starts at noon and admission is free.

Music will come from Mandy Duffy, Mark McKenna, Longshot, 3 Chord Truth, Jefferson Moore, Benni Beard (pictured below), The Glass Poppies, Hungry Souls, The Good Souls, Shelly's Bane, Listen Twice, Fuse and Antiks.

Donations will be taken across the three days, and there will also be raffles and auctions, including a special raffle on Sunday with prizes for children.

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