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Choir shines light on Graham’s talent

Retirement Living Care Services Connectedness Community Health Positive Ageing Stories
  • Former Four Kinsmen guitarist Graham Wilson lives at IRT Links Seaside
  • His Wollongong Song features on an Arcadians Lamplighters CD
  • Lamplighters founder Doreen Bryars wanted her male choir to sing Graham’s song
  • Some funds raised from donations for the CD have been donated to brain cancer research
16 August 2019
IRT Links Seaside resident Graham Wilson.

A song written by IRT resident Graham Wilson has been recorded for a CD.

“A few people have said to me the song should be used as an anthem for Wollongong.”
Graham Wilson
IRT Links Seaside

When Doreen Bryars first heard Graham Wilson perform his Wollongong Song four years ago, she knew immediately she wanted her male choir to sing it.

“I thought ‘Wow, that would be great for the Arcadians Lamplighters Male Choir to sing. It just struck a chord with me,” Doreen explains.

The IRT Links Seaside resident approached Graham, a solo artist and former guitarist with the Four Kinsmen, who readily agreed and they exchanged contact details.

Sadly, Graham was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after and when Doreen tracked him down he was in hospital having treatment.

But he was still keen to provide her with the sheet music so the Lamplighters could perform the song he’d written about his beloved home town.

“He told me ‘I haven’t written anything down, it’s all up here in my head’, ” Doreen recalls.

“So while he was in hospital he actually wrote down the melody and put the chords over the top and left it with me. I voiced it for the choir.”

Dave and Doreen Bryars presenting a cheque to Graham, which was part of the proceeds of the CD donations.
Dave and Doreen Bryars presenting a cheque to Graham, which was part of the proceeds of the CD donations.

Doreen, who formed the Lamplighters 20 years ago, still leads the 60-strong choir of retired men.

When they first performed their rendition of the song at a Wollongong concert, Graham’s friends brought him out of hospital to hear it.

“He loved it,” Doreen says.

The choir continued to perform the song across the Illawarra and it was so popular Doreen had a brainwave.

“Knowing Graham was going through treatment, I thought it would be great to make a CD and use it to raise funds for Graham and for research,” she says.

The choir set about recording a CD entitled Five Favourite Songs and featuring Graham’s Wollongong Song, and distributing it to fans on a donation basis.

Graham, who recently moved into the IRT Links Seaside Aged Care Centre, is thrilled with her efforts.

“A few people have said to me the song should be used as an anthem for Wollongong,” he says.

“I’ve lived here virtually all my life and although I did a lot of travelling with the group, around Australia and overseas, I still love Wollongong.

“As the song says, ‘it’s as close to heaven as I’ll ever be’.”

Earlier this year the Bryars presented a $1500 cheque to Graham, part of the proceeds of the CD donations. Other moneys raised is going to brain cancer research.

Anyone who would like a copy of the CD can contact Doreen or Dave Bryars on (02) 4229 7277. Donations of $15 are welcome.

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