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Couple organise two-day country music charity event to thank cancer charities

Sherri and Rick Naylor

Husband and wife, Rick and Sherri Naylor from Llanfallteg, have organised a two-day country music ‘thank you’ fundraising event to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Old Mill Foundation.

The event, to be held at the Snooty Fox in Martletwy, Pembrokeshire, takes place over two nights on Friday 1 October and Saturday 2 October. On both nights Rick and Sherri will be joined by Richard Howell on pedal steel guitar, as well as by their friend, singer, Huw Evans with Billy Ware providing line dance music in between the acts.

Speaking about the couple’s reasons for organising the event to raise money to help people living with cancer, Sherri, said: “Early last year we had planned a charity fundraising event, however Rick got his stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis, then COVID happened, so this is the first opportunity we have had to proceed and while Rick is feeling strong enough.

“Rick’s diagnosis was a terrible shock and has had a powerful impact on our lives. He was told: ‘Oh you’re not going to get better… but be positive’. There’s not a day when these words don’t ring in our heads, but we decided to focus on helping ourselves and doing the things that are important to us. Conversations with hospitals are about treatment, not about someone’s mental state.

“We contacted the Macmillan Cancer Information Support Service team at the hospital where Rick is receiving his treatments which was so reassuring, as at the early stages of diagnosis there were so many raw emotions to deal with which were quite detrimental to our wellbeing.

“Initially Rick had telephone counselling through the hospital team as lockdown had kicked in, while I would talk to my friends, but as time has gone by, I don’t want to burden them with the overwhelming thoughts and emotions that I continue to have.

“We are so grateful for Rick receiving his treatment throughout the pandemic; however there have been some communication issues with the hospital that have left us so stressed and frustrated, but the Macmillan Support Line (MSL) has been there for us to let off steam and help us through these difficult times. Rick would initially only talk to me about his diagnosis, so I would hand the phone over to him and he would speak to someone on MSL – which was a huge relief to hear him offload to someone else”

Rick and Sherri also received practical advice from a Macmillan Welfare Benefits adviser, whose role is toprovide free and confidential welfare benefits advice so that people living with cancer, their families and carers can get the financial support that they are entitled to.

Speaking about the help the couple received from the Macmillan advisor, Sherri, said: “We’re fortunate to have never needed benefits and didn’t know where to start, but a Macmillan Welfare Benefits Adviser helped us. Rick’s employers, Birch Utilities have also been hugely supportive, for which we are very grateful.”

The couple were also keen to find other support to help Rick manage the symptoms of his cancer diagnosis and have accessed the therapies and advice at the Old Mill Foundation, in Narberth.

Rick and Sherri, who have been married for 32 years, have great hopes for the two-day fundraiser. Speaking about the musical event, Sherri, said: “I’m sure it will be emotional, but we’re really looking forward to it and hope it will be a successful event.”

Although Sherri has been working as a singer and entertainer for most of her life, Rick’s musical career is more recent. Speaking about her career, Sherri, said: ”For over 40 years of my life I have been a singer and entertainer, but following voice issues some years back, I lost my confidence in performing and was reluctantly on the verge of giving it up. That’s when Rick, decided he wanted to learn to play guitar. Then he began to join me on stage, not only on guitar, but with his newly discovered singing voice. Rick is really enjoying his singing and he looks like he has been on stage all of his life.

“The words ‘Go and do the things you want to do’ have been wisely recommended to many going through what we are going through, and we try to be as positive as possible.”

The Snooty Fox are generously providing the venue free of charge and are allowing people attending the event to have the use of their campsite if they wish to stay over. There will be a room raffle on both nights. If you are looking for further information about this event, please call 07974 449153

Speaking about the country music fundraiser, Sue Reece, Macmillan Relationship Fundraising Manager, said:” I know that this event means a lot to Rick and Sherri. Rick’s diagnosis, then the pandemic, meant that the couple have not played on a stage for more than 18 months – but it is going to be a great couple of nights for both for them, and for everyone in the audience.

“Sherri has spoken about how Macmillan helped her and Rick during a very difficult time. Our Macmillan Support Line and our local Cancer Information and Support Services have been invaluable to them during this time. Right now, there are too many people with cancer missing out on the support that is right for them. Macmillan is doing whatever it takes to support people with cancer  – we’re at the end of the phone, we’re online, our Macmillan volunteers are supporting people through treatment and our Macmillan health professionals are working tirelessly but we rely almost entirely on public donations to do this.”

The Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 (open seven days a week) has specially trained nurses and cancer information specialists who can provide information and advice, as well as emotional support, to help people with cancer cope with the additional strain of the coronavirus pandemic.