SUNDAY'S Hold Back The River concert has raised £8,500 for the York Disaster Fund's York Flood Appeal on a night when York's musical community gave their services for free.

Among those in the audience were victims of the Boxing Day floods. Jan Garrill, of the Two Ridings Community Foundation, announced the fund managers now have £685,000 at their disposal from the myriad fund-raising projects and donations for victims to apply for financial assistance. So far, 120 households have benefited and Jan urged other affected householders to contact the foundation.

More than 700 people gathered for Sunday's concert, plenty taking the opportunity on their way in to buy raffle tickets at £2 each to win a painting of the York floods, entitled Flood Lights, by York artist Mark Braithwaite, from the Braithwaite Gallery in Low Petergate. The raffle made £1,192 for the fund, while Sunday's sponsors, the Shepherd Group, donated £500 on the night.

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Pick Me Up Theatre's cast from Les Miserables opening Sunday's show. Picture: David Harrison

The show opened with the Pick Me Up Theatre cast from last month's Les Miserables Youth Production reconvening to perform highlights of the Boublil and Schonberg musical with passion, drama and wit under the musical direction of Adam Tomlinson at the piano.

Tomlinson immediately switched to compere duties with fellow besuited BBC Radio York presenter Jonathan Cowap and they were a fine and dandy double act throughout.

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York Civic Youth Choir singing Skyfall. Picture: David Harrison

Singer-songwriter Dan Webster led his band through two numbers from his latest album with mandolin player Polly Bolton to the fore; York Civic Youth Choir loved singing Adele's Skyfall and Archies Boys Aloud brought poignancy to the night's theme song, Hold Back The River, with memories still fresh from December 26.

The Grand Old Uke Of York rocked out on Born To Be Wild and Free's Alright Now via James Blunt's Bonfire Heart and their most ambitious rendition ever, Queen's unstoppable Don't Stop Me Now, as beach balls bounced around the audience.

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The Grand Old Uke Of York: born to be wild at York Barbican. Picture: David Harrison

The Shepherd Group Concert Brass Band blasted off the second half with Amarillo; the Steve Cassidy Band presented delightful renditions of Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop and Wagon Wheel, before Ish Herd and her fellow music teacher friends, Molly Newton and Andrea Campbell Mappleback, brought hearty humour and bags of personality to their amusing songs.

Mike Pratt took the art of conducting to gymnastic levels as he urged on both the returning Shepherd Group band and the audience in Madness's Baggy Trousers and The Proclaimers I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), but his bravura leap from the stage into the auditorium came at a cost. He was on crutches yesterday after bruising his heels; by chance the nurse at A&E recognised him as she had attended Sunday's concert.

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Stepping into the breach: Sarah Woodmansey. Picture: David Harrison

Headliner Rebecca Newman was forced to drop out after losing her voice but up stepped a nerveless Sarah Woodmansey, 17-year-old daughter of the vicar of Holy Trinity Heworth, to perform Defying Gravity from Frozen.

Better still, she led audience and the whole Hold Back The River company in Bridge Over Troubled Water in the 42nd Street tradition of stepping into the breach. Nothing, river or whatever, was going to hold her back.

Charles Hutchinson


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Oh happy Day!

LINDA Day, from Bootham, was drawn out of the bag by singer Sarah Woodmansey at Sunday's raffle for Mark Braithwaite's painting Flood Lights.

"I telephoned Linda on Monday and she was absolutely thrilled," said Anne Braithwaite, from the Braithwaite Gallery. "She'd bought nine tickets in the gallery since January, but says she never wins anything, and she really loved the artwork."

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Mark Braithwaite and Anne Braithwaite with raffle prize winner Linda Day at the Braithwaite Gallery in York