On 20 August 2016, my family and I held a charity music event in memory of Cara Keirl, my big sister, in support of Mind. We raised over £3,700. The event took place at the popular Frog and Fiddle in Cheltenham and headline acts included members from the world-famous EMF as well as Goldie Lookin Chain, and Shoot the Moon.
It was only after my dearly beloved sister took her own life that we found out more about Mind. During the early days of our grief we knew we wanted to support the charity to spread awareness of mental health problems and help others like Cara.
"I will always remember how relaxed and happy music used to make Cara."
Deciding on what we should do to fundraise for Mind was easy. Cara loved music, so a gig seemed like the obvious choice. I think we can all agree that the sound of music can drastically boost the way we feel and can be a very powerful source of wellbeing. That was always evident with Cara. Whether she was at home getting ready to go out, in her car travelling somewhere, at work or at a busy music event or festival, she would always have the sound of music in her ears.
I will always remember how relaxed and happy music used to make Cara. She’d turn it up so loud and shimmy around the place saying how much she ‘loved this song’. She loved to sing along out loud like nobody was listening, just losing herself in the sound, and in hindsight, removing herself from the struggles she faced on a daily basis. There are songs that I listen to now that remind me of Cara when she was happy, and those memories are all that I, and my family, have left.
"The amount of money raised made the hard work more than worth it."
Honouring her memory through a music event was honestly the most amazing thing we could have done to kick start our fundraising, and will no doubt play a huge part in our fundraising in the future.
Our event included several hours of live music – all of which Cara would have danced the night away to, an incredibly generous raffle drawn on the night, a supply of fresh Jamaican food and a bar selling all kinds of drinks, including a custom made ‘Purple Haze’ cocktail. The space was decorated with Mind banners, balloons and posters, and we had leaflets for our guests to take away and learn more about mental health.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.