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Norwich man's gig plans to help the people of Haiti

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:36 02 July 2010

Norwich artist John Hirst is organising a benefit gig in aid of Haitians he visited in December

Norwich artist John Hirst is organising a benefit gig in aid of Haitians he visited in December

Mary Hamilton

A Norwich man who worked in Haiti is pulling together local bands for a benefit event in aid of earthquake victims - and to remember the friends he has lost.

A Norwich man who worked in Haiti is pulling together local bands for a benefit event in aid of earthquake victims - and to remember the friends he has lost.

John Hirst, of Lower Goat Lane, Norwich, visited Port au Prince as part of his work with former KLF performer Bill Drummond, creating community choirs around the world and twinning schools overseas with schools in the UK.

They visited Mr Drummond's former school in Corby in November to make a recording for The 17 project, before heading out to Haiti in December to do the same with children at L'Ecole Guillaume Manigat, in Grande Rue, one of the poorest parts of the city - and one of the worst hit by the January 12 earthquake which, according to the latest figures, killed 200,000 people.

Yesterday, the pair were due to return to Corby to talk to the schoolchildren about the earthquake and show them pictures of the children they met - and explain that no one knows what has happened to them.

“We hope it will help them identify with the children in Haiti,” said Mr Drummond. “The images we see now are all destruction, but the pictures we took a month ago are so fresh, so bright and vibrant.

“Now we don't know how many are left alive.”

Mr Drummond said he would be attending one of this weekend's benefit concerts in Norwich, which have been organised to try to raise cash for front line efforts to help quake victims.

“It's not just about raising money here and now,” he said. “It's also about building a better life for these children who had absolutely nothing.”

Mr Hirst said: “We wanted to do something to help the people we met anyway. Now this has happened, so we are trying to make it a much bigger thing.

“I have never seen poverty like I saw in Port au Prince before the earthquake - I can barely imagine what it must be like now.”

Local bands eager to help the relief effort have donated their time for free so that all proceeds from Sunday's gigs can go straight to where they are needed most.

The Neutrinos, Death of Death of Discotheque and BK and Dad are lined up to perform on Sunday at the Playhouse Bar. Cakes and Ale will play at the Bicycle Shop, which will also offer £10 shots of Haitian rum with all profits going to the appeal.

There will also be a raffle with prizes including two seats in the Aviva Box at Carrow Road for the January 30 match against Hartlepool, with a three course meal and drinks thrown in.

The Haiti benefit events will be at The Playhouse Bar on St Georges Street and The Bicycle Shop on St Benedicts Street at 8.30pm on Sunday January 24. Admission is free but the organisers urge everyone attending to donate as much as they can.

Are you planning a benefit event for a good cause? Call reporter Mary Hamilton on 01603 772471.

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