Infant Hercules Marching Once Again

December 9th, 2015

A Stockton-based male voice choir, backed by the Philanthropic Foundation, is embarking on a remarkable 18-mile walk on December 12 to raise money for Teesside families struggling to make ends meet this Christmas.

Infant Hercules was created as part of the Festival of the North East in 2013 and, as the name suggests, it took its inspiration from the heritage and tradition of steel-making and heavy industry on Teesside and commissioned the popular Cattle and Cane anthem of the same name.

The march – from Stockton to Redcar – is part of a wider community engagement project entitled The Most Wonderful Bank in the World. The latest venture of Stockton’s creative partner, Mike McGrother, that project enables people to give of their time and ‘themselves’ in the month leading up to Christmas Day. The Steel River March was inspired by the recent cessation of steel-making in Redcar but, explains Mike, this walk is much more a statement of unity, empathy and community for anyone struggling at this time of the year.

“Everyone on Teesside knows someone affected by the closure of the steelworks, or who has ancestral connections,” says Mike. “We wanted to show the Redcar community and all those struggling with the impact of austerity and unemployment across the Tees Valley that they aren’t forgotten about. We are not investors and we are not politicians. We are simply Teessiders who care and can show our support and maybe raise awareness through walking and singing.”

Mike and the choir have teamed up with Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation who are co-ordinating a fundraising aspect to the walk.

“The march was never really about raising money,” continues Mike, “but about reminding people that there are families in their communities who may be feeling quite desperate at this time of the year. Those who want to give financially can do so – but a quick check on neighbours, a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen may be just as valuable. In saying that, there are people out there who are in financial dire straits and so having the Foundation to help us distribute any money raised is really appreciated.”

Andy Preston, chairman of the Philanthropic Foundation, said: “We know all too well what the demise of our steel industry and the subsequent job losses does to individuals and families”

“So we plan to support the Steel River March by matching any funds that people donate.  Money will go to charities and community projects across Teesside and the Redcar area in particular.”

Those who would like to support the Steel River March with a donation to the Philanthropic Foundation can make a donation via https://www.justgiving.com/SteelRiverMarch/

Infant Hercules are also being welcomed by Middlesbrough Football Club and an emotional aspect to the march will see the choir inviting fans attending Boro’s home match against Birmingham City to add their voices to a rendition of We Shall Overcome at the Ayresome Gates at 2.20pm.

A spokesman for Middlesbrough Football Club said: “We look forward to welcoming the marchers at the Riverside Stadium. We have always been very supportive of the local steel-making community and this is a wonderful gesture for the workers and their families.”

Following the Boro match, the march will continue to the gates of the SSI plant at Redcar where, at 19.17 (the time picked to remember the year that the Dorman Long plant in Redcar was opened) a final song will be sung, a candle lit and Infant Hercules will travel on to Saltburn to support Mike’s band, The Wildcats of Kilkenny.

‘It will be a long day. An emotional day. And a hard day,” adds Mike. “But it is only one day of hardship for us – to show our care and empathy with those in our community who struggle day after day. With the support and friendship and a community spirit with the strength of steel, we can help each other through darker days. THAT is what the Steel River March is all about’.

The March begins with some songs from Infant Hercules in ARC, Dovecot Street at 10.30am before the lads set off at 10.50am.

Contact Mike McGrother for photo opps and more details.

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