AN award-winning singer songwriter from Coventry has released a new single close to her heart to raise funds and awareness for three local charities in the wake of the pandemic.
My Darling is the exclusive new track written and recorded by MOBO-nominated musician Sandra Godley in aid of Surviving Bereavement, Molly Olly’s Wishes and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.
In collaboration with Surviving Bereavement Founder Tracey McAtamney, the project draws much-needed focus on the increasing mental health problems posed by Covid-19.
It is a particularly poignant piece or work for the Bristol-born musician and local BBC radio host, Sandra, who is still grieving the loss of her own aunt to the virus in April last year.
She said: “This track is based on conversations that I’d had with people like Tracey and others who survived having lost people and having had a year out to think about that.
“Because I work in broadcasting people are telling me their stories of loss and grief and anguish all the time. I got to the point where I thought, what do I do with all this? This is a real situation and I need to help as many people as I can.
“I wrote the lyrics for this hoping it would offer some kind of comfort and a way of journeying these next few months and years. What I’ve found is that a lot of people haven’t been able to talk about it because they haven’t been able to physically go and see someone in the family during the grieving process.”
With four successful albums and a clutch of awards to her name, Sandra’s proudest musical career highlights include singing in The House of Commons as well as creating and performing The Big Love Song as a wedding gift for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, joined by a choir of mental health ambassadors on BBC’s The One Show, in 2018.
My Darling marks a departure from Sandra’s usual soul and gospel style, instead following more contemporary musical influences to appeal to a wider audience impacted by Covid or otherwise-related loss.
“I wanted this to be more modern in terms of the Billie Eilish, James Arthur and George Ezra-type sound. I was actually influenced by a lot young artists for this song when I usually tend to look backwards in time for a lot of my music. Most young people won’t have previously experienced the kind of trauma of the last 18 months and I thought these artists were writing some really inspirational stuff for this ‘now’ moment,” she said.
Through the work of The Surviving Bereavement Foundation, Tracey McAtamney has helped many others through their journey with grief by offering legal and financial advice as well as practical and emotional support.
Tracey, from Balsall Common, established the Foundation 16 years after herself being widowed with two sons at the age of just 38. Her husband Tony had died suddenly in his hotel room while on a golfing holiday in Spain.
As part of the Foundation’s growth, she also recently qualified as a Grief Recovery Specialist, using an actioned evidenced-based programme for moving beyond death, divorce and other losses including health and career.
The past year has also seen a huge rise in demand for her personalised Memory Boxes, which contain specially chosen items that celebrate the life of a lost loved one.
She said: “During lockdown I delivered or posted 136 free Memory Boxes or Bags to children and young adults. I realised with us coming out of the pandemic we needed a way to reach more people. Music is that way – Sandra’s song is one of hope for all of those people grieving due to the loss of loved ones, many of which were unable to say goodbye.
“I am so grateful to Sandra for putting the words on paper and then adding her voice – it is beautiful. The track could have been written for me when my husband died and I was unable to say goodbye 16 years ago!”
“I am hoping that the song will provide hope for many and that by downloading it, will ensure that more children and young adults will continue to receive free Memory Boxes.”
The single, which has been produced by Matt Cossey of The Nexus Institute of Creative Arts in Coventry, is being funded by an anonymous sponsor and supported by Alsters Kelley solicitors and Coventry’s The Telegraph Hotel – the host of an official launch event on National Grief Awareness Day, on August 30th.
Some of the proceeds will also benefit Warwick-based charity Molly Olly’s Wishes and local mental health charity Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.
Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.
It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.
Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.
Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “The death of someone close to us is hard at any time but the restrictions and effects of the pandemic have made the grieving process all the more difficult.
“Raising awareness of the struggle and the enormity of loss and how it affects us all differently and providing support through these challenging times is so important.
“Molly Olly’s Wishes work with families who sadly have a child at end of life and help them to create memories and support their emotional wellbeing and we are extremely grateful to Sandra. It is a beautiful song and we hope it helps highlight the awareness of loss and the work of charities.”
Local mental health charity, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind is part of the national Mind organisation – delivering services and support for people with mental health problems for over 50 years.
Recognising the importance of listening to, and working with, people who have experienced mental health issues, the charity aims to provide support for those who live with and recover from a mental health problem. This can mean providing access to information, a listening ear, or providing more specialist support and services.
Steven Hill, Coventry and Warwickshire Mind CEO said: “During the lockdown we were all forced into periods of extended isolation – this was difficult enough for those of us with close family networks but for those of us living alone, this increased the sense of anxiety, of isolation, and of hopelessness.
“The impact of this isolation, added to the trauma of loss and bereavement experienced across Coventry and Warwickshire, has exaggerated mental health issues for many, leaving them desperate for support at a time of mental health crisis.”