Brewing up a storm of support for cancer warrior
A 1990s Irish chart topper has been given a new lease of life by Tullyvin Musical Society as they pay tribute to a modern Irish hero. In the last five years, the society has gone from strength to strength, but the latest artistic output sees them performing for an online audience.
Carol McGuinness, sister of Tullyvin Musical Society member Jackie McQuillan, has avidly followed the journey of Vicky Phelan as she prepared to travel to the US to start her treatment in a new cancer treatment trial.
Vicky was one of hundreds of Irish women caught up in the Cervical Check scandal who had her cancer diagnosis delayed. She inspired many with her vocal activism that brought the cervical check scandal to public attention.
After a recent Late Late Show appearance, Carol was so moved by Vicky’s courage she wanted to send a message of support. She adapted the words to The Stunning’s song ‘Brewing up a Storm’ into a lyrical representation of Vicky’s character. The song sums up the campaigner’s ability to think of others while enduring her own struggles.
“We are in a group chat together and we are always scheming,” Jackie said of the background to the song her sister penned for the campaigning icon.
“I said we need to get permission from the guy who wrote it. It took a little while to figure out how to contact him,” Jackie explained.
The sisters embarked on journey of detection before contacting Steve Wall’s partner via Instagram to outline their plan. When the Galway singer heard what was in the works, he was most supportive.
“He emailed us and said he was a great admirer of Vicky Phelan and would be delighted if we used his song,” Jackie said. “There are around 40 members in the society and I asked in the group chat who would be interested in recording it and it took off from there.”
“It’s one of Vicky’s favourite songs, from one of her favourite bands, which was not something we didn’t know at the time,” Paula McEntee the PRO for Tullyvin Musical Society told the Celt.
With permission granted, the next step was to make it happen: “We had a few Zoom meetings to iron out the details. Then we employed the technological skills of two of our own, Dermot Carragher and John Grogan, to compile a recording and video.”
With the song recorded, the next step was to send it to Vicky: “She loved it,” said a delighted Paula.
“She referred to the Heroes Aid charity in her Late Late interview. So we thought we would link them to the video to give them a boost. The front-line workers are the people we are so reliant on at the moment.”
Since it was put online, it’s had a remarkable reaction. The video received over 3,000 views on YouTube and over 2,000 on Instagram since Friday. It is particularly well received on the Vicky’s Tribe page on Facebook.
“It was about doing something positive and nice for Vicky,” Jackie said.
“Just to let her know that she has so much support over here. Everyone is aware that she is in the US for the next six months for intensive treatment. It’s a last ditch effort. Everyone is rooting for her.”
Jackie spoke of the importance of staying connected with fellow society members: “It was a lovely project for us at this time when we can’t meet. All last year, even though we couldn’t meet, we did so many things in the background.”
For Paula the highpoint of the venture came in a Tweet: “The icing on the cake was a lovely message from Vicky herself saying it was one of the nicest gifts she has received in the past three years and thanked the society members for putting the biggest smile on her face.”
“We’ve also included a link for Heroes Aid - a charity highlighted and supported by Vicky on her recent Late Late interview. If anyone feels inclined please donate to this very worthwhile charity to support our front line workers.
“We in Tullyvin Musical Society are so very appreciative of all their hard work and dedication since the beginning of COVID-19,” Paula concluded.