Friday, 8th September 2017

Female drummers in Zimbabwe are to get into the groove by benefitting from a fundraising drive, organised by the Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund, which operates through South Tyneside College.

The fund asked regulars at the Black Horse pub in West Boldon, South Tyneside, to help buy a drum kit by donating towards a £370 target.

Within weeks they had raised that amount, which was then doubled by the fund, meaning two sets can now be bought and used by musicians in the Zimbabwean town of Bulawayo.

They will be donated to the Bluez Café, an organisation which supports disadvantaged individuals and groups and runs programmes for girl music artists.

It is based at the Youth Contact Centre education establishment and has a close relationship with the Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund.

Officials at the Bluez Café say there is only one professional female drummer in Zimbabwe but that many women are desperate to pursue playing.

Les Watson, who helped to found the Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund in 2016, said: “We put leaflets about the appeal around the pub, and customers responded magnificently.

“Whether they were diners in the restaurant or drinkers at the bar, their generosity meant we reached our target after just a few weeks.

“The purchase of two drum kits will open opportunities to women in Bulawayo and the wider area, to play music through the drums.”

Dr Lindsey Whiterod OBE, Chief Executive of Tyne Coast College, which includes South Tyneside College, added: “Music is an inspirational force, and I am sure these drum kits will inspire more women in Zimbabwe to take up playing.

“The Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund is doing great work to support individuals and organisations wherever it identifies suitable need.

“I’m grateful to everyone at the Black Horse who contributed to this very worthy appeal.”

Sarah Reid, who co-owns the Black Horse with her partner Pete Zulu, a member of 1980s band The Toy Dolls, said: “Our customers’ response to the appeal was amazing.

“The pub already has a strong connection to music through Pete being in local bands, and so it is fitting that we wanted to help.

“It’s wonderful that the support our customers have given will help to empower women in Zimbabwe.”

And North-East jazz musician Ken Hewitt, who helped to promote the fundraising drive, said: “The people at the pub, be they staff or drinkers, have been very generous indeed.

“They were asked to help and they responded superbly, they all pulled together to ensure we reached our goal.

“Many young people in Bulawayo will benefit from this, and that is a great thing. We are all very grateful for all the support we have received.”

The Dr Winterbottom Charitable Fund raises money mainly to help students and good causes at home but sometimes also those abroad.

It is named after Dr Thomas Masterman Winterbottom, who was born in South Shields in 1766.

His financial bequest led to the founding of a 19th Century marine school from which South Tyneside College grew.

Domestically, the fund enables students to study and progress effectively, form their own businesses, or helps them through times of financial difficulties.

It has also established links with organisations overseas to provide assistance to them and to individuals, when possible.

Among these is its work with the Youth Contact Centre, where it has previously donated musical instruments and educational goods.

A Bluez Café spokesman said: “Few female artists can access and learn to play instruments, but in Bulawayo there is a wealth of life supporting talent, just waiting to be tapped.

“The one major component that has been needed for a full band setup is a drum kit, which is beyond the means of the organisations involved.

“This provision of drums for female artists will have a major impact on the role and stature of women in the local music industry.”

More information on the fund is available by emailing or calling 0191 427 3717.