Second workshop and concert in memory of music-loving Rosa Simon who died two years ago
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 June 2016
A church hall was filled with the joyous sound of more than 50 young voices coming together in song in memory of a very special little girl.
It is nearly two years since three-year-old Rosa Simon died in a tragic accident outside her Suffolk home in Hadleigh in June 2014.
Although her family still miss her every single day, they have gained comfort from their strong Christian faith, the ongoing love and support of the local community and the fruits of a music trust they set up in Rosa’s name.
Over the past two years, The Rosa Simon Music Fund has supported 30 local music projects as diverse as donating £1,500 to set up a junior community choir in Hadleigh to enabling individual young musicians to purchase instruments.
The fund has brought musical opportunities to hundreds of local children which Rosa’s father Paul Simon said gave him a “great sense of hope” following the heartbreak of losing his happy, bubbly, music-loving daughter.
On Saturday, the trust hosted its second music workshop and free concert at the United Reformed Church in Hadleigh, where the family including Rosa’s mum Sheeba, big sister Millie, brother Thomas and new baby Ella all worship.
Fifty-two local youngsters, aged from seven to 15 from four local schools, took part in the event which was led by internationally recognised jazz pianist and composer Pete Letanka who is also music director of Glyndebourne Youth Opera and an artistic director at Aldeburgh Music.
Alongside pre-prepared pieces from Bildeston, Hadleigh High, Hadleigh Community Primary and Hadleigh St Mary’s schools, the enthusiastic youngsters learned some new songs which they then performed at a free concert later in the day following a picnic lunch.
Nigel Crisp, one of the Rosa’s Fund trustees, said the poignancy of the fast-approaching second anniversary of Rosa’s death would be lessened by the excitement of the workshop and concert being held in her name.
“It is a privilege to be part of a team of volunteers who have worked so hard to bring this special day to fruition,” he added.
According to Rosa’s father, the workshop and concert were all about giving children and young people new chances to learn music, to perform in public and to witness the positive reaction of an audience.
“The workshop and concert are inspirational because they take a tragedy like Rosa’s death and almost turn it on its head,” Mr Simon said.
“It’s a defiant cry of life to see so many young people coming together to be inspired and enthused by Pete and to be given the confidence to perform before a large audience.
“Had Rosa been alive she would have thrown herself into this wholeheartedly. It’s a gloriously uplifting experience.”
Although Mr Simon admits he had no expectations in the beginning, the fund has undoubtedly been embraced by the whole Hadleigh community and has become a big success. Among those lending support to Saturday’s workshop and concert were local drummer George Double, double bassist Jose Canha and Gotelee Solicitors, who sponsored the event.
“It is hard to recall when it (the fund) started as it came as an emotional response to the shock of Rosa’s death so we had no real expectations,” Mr Simon continued.
“But within a few months it was obvious that it could have a hugely positive effect on many children’s lives. It gives us a great sense of hope.”
As well as their Christian faith and the support of the United Reformed Church, where Mr Simon is now an elder, the family also has another blessing – the birth of a new baby, Ella.
Mr Simon added: “Ella is a great gift and having her is a great joy for us.
“Ella wouldn’t be here if it was not for Rosa’s death and that goes almost to the heart of the Christian faith which is the triumph of life over death – Ella for us is part of that experience.
“The support of the church and the wider community has been a source of great strength to us.
“We still miss Rosa terribly and every day there’s a reminder, but we are also confident that she is fine and that we and all the family will one day be reunited.
“When she died, I felt an enormous sense of sadness but also felt that God understood.
“I feel that everything will work out fine in the end – I have the confidence in God’s promise that we will see Rosa again.”