York teacher with terminal cancer records music as lasting legacy
Updated 10:17am Monday 12th May 2014 in News
A WELL-KNOWN York primary school teacher with terminal cancer will leave a lasting legacy after recording a CD of his music.
Following a six year battle with cancer, Ste was admitted to St Leonard's Hospice in December where he has taken solace and strength from his music - playing in the carol concert and recording music with his band.
Ste said: "When I became very ill at the end of last year, I decided I wanted to record my music to leave as a legacy, in a creative sense and as a contribution to organisations that have helped me along this difficult journey.
"My love of music prompted conversations with staff and I talked about my wish to record a number of songs which document my thoughts and feelings during my illness; reflections of my life, not with sadness but with accomplishment and pride.
"It's about continuing to live with cancer, pursuing goals, having some control over aspects of your day. And it’s about celebrating life. Something is not diminished simply because it ends."
The CD will help raise money for charities including St Leonard’s Hospice and the Cancer Care Unit at York Hospital.
Ste said when he was admitted to the hospice demoralised from a recent operation and barely able to stand, he and his wife Helen heard carols and went to join in.
When they finished singing he went to borrow a guitar and played some music and when staff noticed how well he looked in such a short time, his occupational therapist Lu found a him a guitar.
Ste, who also previously worked at Fishergate Primary School and was a councillor and chairman of a parish council until he became ill, plays in Ostler's Dog, which plays a mixture of "Americana and contemporary folk with a twist of bluegrass".
Staff at the hospice gave them a designated room and Ste and his band recorded their tracks with the help of a mobile recording unit over a number of sessions.
Helen, Ste's wife, said: “The hospice not only provided the venue, but the nurses made every effort to ensure Ste was well enough to play during these sessions. This involved changing the time of his medication so he was not so sleepy, ensuring he was well rested so he had the energy to play, and fitting his cannula in a different arm so he could still strum the guitar. All these different measures were really difficult to co-ordinate, but they made it look so easy. "
Ste previously played with Beyond the Pale in the early 1990s and later continued to perform locally at the Black Swan folk club and in amateur musical theatre with York Light and New Earswick Musical Society.
Ste said: “I have felt so overwhelmed by the support I have received from the staff here at the hospice. They find out what you want and help you achieve what you can; they treat the whole person and not just the illness. The doctors say I am a changed man. You can call music part of my therapeutic plan - or you could simply call it living."
If people want news of the CD release they can follow Ostler's Dog on Twitter or Facebook @ostlersdog. It will be out as a CD and digital download.
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