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Andy Stadden, 58 from Angmering, has written and recorded a heart-warming Christmas song to help raise money for St Barnabas House, who cared for his wife, Julie, in 2019.
The song entitled ‘Hold Hands for Christmas’ is dedicated to Julie and features Andy alongside 48 friends, family members and pets who each recorded their parts for the video separately during lockdown.
When Andy married Julie in February 2018, little did they know that just seven months after their celebrations, Julie would be diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour. Despite a brain operation and radiotherapy, Julie’s condition was incurable and sadly she died on 31 May 2019.
The pair first met at Arunners running club in Littlehampton, and Andy was due to run the Brighton Marathon with his guitar in April this year in Julie’s honour. When the event was postponed until September 2021, he decided to find another way to give back to St Barnabas House.
“The idea for the song came to me whilst out for a run just before my first Christmas without Julie”, explains Andy. “I had been thinking about how Julie’s Dad, Chris, had once told me that he knew Julie and I were right for each other because he’d noticed we always used to hold hands. It is a song about grief, and making contact with people that care about you.”
“I had thought ‘Hold Hands’ would just be a song that I would sing at Christmas open mics, but my friends at Blue Door Music Productions kindly offered to do the recording and make the video. Because of Covid, the video is entirely ‘selfie’ video clips made in lockdown from many contributors who got into the festive spirit!
“The song also identifies that some people may not be looking forward to Christmas this year, especially if they are struggling with grief. I hope this might encourage them to reach out to friends and family and find a hand to hold.”
Since the video went live on YouTube on 30 November, it has already raised an incredible £703, smashing Andy’s £500 target within a day of release.
“I’m determined to do what I can to raise to money for St Barnabas House so they can continue their important work,” says Andy. “Because their fantastic Hospice at Home team made it possible for me to look after Julie at home until the end of her life.
“During her last six weeks Julie was in a bed downstairs in the front room. The Hospice at Home team called round twice a day to wash and change her, sometimes with extra visits if needed. This much needed routine work was always completed professionally and with compassion. However, the visits meant a lot more than just the care work. It was a chance for Julie to chat, and even have a joke and laugh in those darkest of times. The team became like friends, calling round every day.”
If you’ve enjoyed listening to ‘Hold Hands for Christmas’, you can show your support by visiting Andy’s JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/holdhandsforchristmas