Spectacular tribute concert raises £15,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

The 1,200 seat Waterside theatre was sold out for ‘Nick Care’s BIG Band Paean’ held on the 5th of March, and over £15,000 pounds was donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The money was raised through ticket sales, additional donations on the door and subsequent donations via the NickCareConcert Just Giving web page.

Nick Care died with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2020 aged 62. As a teacher for the Aylesbury Music Centre (AMC), he was instrumental in Aylesbury becoming known as a centre for excellence of youth music. Five of Nick’s bands, spanning ages 10 to 18, won forty national and international awards. His Aylesbury Music Centre Dance Band won the BBC Big Band competition four times. Nick’s bands performed live on BBC Blue Peter seven times and internationally at Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals five times.  They also played Buckingham Palace, The Royal Albert Hall, London Palladium and BBC Proms in the Park. Some youngsters performed in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Nick also helped Warwick Davis with his band conducting. Guest soloists with Nick’s bands included Sir John Dankworth, Georgie Fame, Julian Joseph and Django Bates.

Aylesbury born Jules Buckley returned home to lead the concert which featured a staggering number of Nick’s former students

Prom 49: Backstage at the Quincy Jones Prom at the RAH with the Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley ( ft Richard Bona:voice/bass guitar, Jacob Collier: voice/piano/synth, Alfredo Rodriguez: piano and Cory Henry: jazz organ) on Monday 11 Aug. 2016.
Photo by Mark Allan

and friends performing in a spectacular tribute concert at the Waterside Theatre.

Grammy award-winning curator, conductor, orchestrator, composer and hugely respected musical innovator Jules played in Nick’s bands from the age of 9 to 18. He now has two No. 1 albums, a staggering discography of over 70 albums and 20 BBC Proms concerts, seeing him collaborate with international musical legends such as Paul Weller, Chaka Khan, Robbie Williams, Stormzy, Arctic Monkeys, Quincy Jones, Tori Amos and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Nick Care’s BIG Band Paean featured 160 performers with ages ranging from eight years old to retirees, who were mainly friends and alumni from Nick’s AMC Bands. In addition to Jules Buckley the numerous alumni who are now professional musicians, included Mark Armstrong (Professor at the Royal College of Music, Artistic Director of National Youth Jazz Orchestra) and John and Matt Calvert (Quincy Jones, Goldie). Friends performing included Mark Nightingale on trombone (Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Madonna), and Mike Lovatt on trumpet (Aretha Franklin, Seth MacFarlane, Gary Barlow). The professionals played in performance with the dozens of alumni who now enjoy music as a great leisure time activity, as well as students from Turnfurlong Junior School, for whom it was their first ever concert performance.

The concert featured thrilling, high-energy, swinging Big Band, The Farnaby Brass Ensemble and a huge Brass Band. The programme was drawn from four centuries of music and included fun and familiar music like Buddy Rich’s arrangement of West Side Story, Sing Sing Sing, and works by Django Bates, William Byrd and Handel as well as three of Nick’s own dramatic compositions.

Nick’s widow Kathy Gifford, who also worked closely with Nick at the AMC, was the event’s producer, and alongside the professional  Waterside theatre staff, there were seventy five volunteer helpers tasked with looking after all of these performers and the audience. The whole concert is available on YouTube: search ‘Nick Care Paean’.

The majority of the £15,000 raised is earmarked to fund research looking for relief and a cure for MND. The remainder goes to the Bedfordshire branch of the MNDA whose volunteers provide equipment, advice, relief and personal support as they did though Nick’s illness. The Just Giving NickCareConcert page is still open for donations to the MNDA.

Rita Beaumont, lead volunteer for the Bedfordshire group of the MNDA accepting the large (in all senses of the word) cheque for £15,008.45 donated following Nick Care’s BIG Band Paean. The cheque is presented to Rita by the concert’s producer Kathy Gifford, together with members of the audience, volunteers and players, and Waterside theatre events manager Julie Chitty.


Kathy Gifford