On Friday 4th September, I took part in a very special concert celebrating the life of Hannah Lindfield, a young woman who died in November 2014. Hannah suffered all her life from a rare genetic disorder called Pfeiffer Syndrome that causes the bones of the skull to fuse together so it cannot grow properly. Hannah was in and out of hospital all her life until her premature death at the age of 23 in November 2014. She was deaf and registered blind but despite this she was a talented artist with a wonderful sense of colour and an incredible personal story.
Speaking about her art, Hannah said:
“it allows me to communicate my emotions and fears to doctors and loved ones and to act as therapy to get myself through difficult and painful times. Furthermore, this is also why colour is so important in my art, as it allows me to communicate emotion”
A selection of Hannah’s art:
My duo partner Lee Varney and I were approached by members of the medical team at UCLH who cared for Hannah to organise a fundraising concert to enable Hannah’s family to publish her autobiography and also to make a significant contribution to Headlines, the craniofacial charity which offered invaluable support to Hannah and her family.
The venue for the concert was St-Mary-le-Bow in the City of London, home of the famous Bow Bells. With a capacity of c200, we knew this was going to be “the big one” and we were determined to plan the event meticulously to ensure it was very special and memorable for everyone. We invited guest performers to take part, and having these wonderful professional musicians on board, who gave up their precious time and their fees, took the event to a whole new level. In addition, we organised an exhibition of Hannah’s paintings and the opportunity for guests to purchase prints of her art, with all profits going into the charity fund.
The programme was planned carefully to include music that was reflective and poignant, and the concert was preceded by a touching tribute by Hannah’s father, Mark Lindfield. He spoke of his daughter’s incredible bravery, her talents and joie de vivre, and her determination not to allow her condition to prevent her from enjoying life to the full. When it was clear that Hannah could undergo no further surgery, her decision to leave intensive care to be cared for at home reveals an incredibly mature and stoical young woman. He also praised the NHS who cared for Hannah all her life, at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children and UCLH, and also Headlines, the charity which offered Hannah and her family so much support and reminded them that they were not alone with the condition.
The concert closed with a standing ovation, led by Hannah’s family, a very moving tribute to Hannah. It was a huge privilege to be involved in such a wonderful event, and to work with a fantastic group of talented and committed people. I think we were all conscious of the enormity of the occasion and played with a heightened awareness, which resulted in a really beautiful concert.
Events like this do not happen automatically, and we relied upon a great team of willing and enthusiastic volunteers to ensure the event ran smoothly on the night, to whom we offer heartfelt thanks:
Front of house and bar: Mary Newton (UCLH) and her family, Dot Fraser, Rebecca Singerman-Knight and Nick Marlowe
Flowers – Helmer Cuartas
Piano – Coach House Pianos, Swansea, who generously loaned us a beautiful Steinway D, free of charge
Piano tuning – Rolf Dragstra
Poetry readings – Kate Foot and Katie Maughan
Programme – Action Graphics, Teddington
La Balie France for a generous donation which enabled us to produce a beautiful full-colour souvenir programme
Filming – Ed Lindfield and team
Nick Cressey and staff at St Mary-le-Bow
Extra special thanks must also go to our wonderful guest artists:
I would also like to offer my personal thanks to Lee, who in addition to holding down a stressful full-time job in the anaesthetics department at UCLH, learnt all the music and organised rehearsals, as well as running the majority of the admin for the event.
Thank you again to everyone who helped make it happen
Frances Wilson, 6th September 2015