May 2018: Garden set to inspire others

AN INSPIRATIONAL musical garden is being constructed outside school so that the legacy of talented drummer Matthew Densfield is never forgotten.

Our former student, Matthew, was in the first year of his BA Hons degree in Modern Jazz at Leeds College of Music.

Matthew had DiGeorge Syndrome and died following complications after heart surgery in March last year, aged 20.

A celebration concert was held in our school theatre last month when Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra played; Matthew had been a member for eight years until leaving for college in 2016.

Matthew’s mum Susan said: “It was fabulous. We had four of his friends from Leeds staying here and having music around the house was very touching and they were playing music that we played to Matthew when he was in hospital.

“Two came over on the Saturday because they had been gigging on the Friday night and a minibus brought another nine college friends.

“We have had a stool specially made for the school garden with Matthew’s drumsticks on, donated for free by blacksmith Darren Lamberton and Paul Starkie of Guideline Engineering. We had it on the stage at the concert.

“There were more than 200 people there, but there was a lovely family atmosphere and I saw so many people that I knew.”

There were three drum kits on the stage and the Musical Director Paul Rigby had a drum battle with Jonathan Raynor who had been Matthew’s understudy.

His friends from Leeds also took to the stage and played ‘Caravan’ a jazz number that Matthew played during Freshers’ Week in Leeds.

The concert raised £2,269 for Ronald McDonald Charities for their accommodation in Liverpool, which is provided free for families of hospital patients.

Susan said: “We had previously stayed in what is known as the elephant room, they are all named after animals or Disney characters, and a plaque is being made for the room in Matthew’s memory.”

A further £5,674, raised after his passing, funded a room at the Ronald McDonald house in Manchester.

In the school garden old brass instruments have become plant pots, a bench with a musical stave backrest has been installed and a large kettle drum will become a bird bath.

On the wall a stave will have notes for the tune ‘La Almeja Pequena’ – this was the jazz music that Matthew played for his A level and was given 40 out of 40; it was the same music he played at his Leeds audition to secure an unconditional place.

Susan added: “As a family we would like to thank our friends and family, Haslingden High School for the venue, technician Nick Smith for videoing the concert and everyone who has supported us to make sure Matthew’s legacy of inspiring others will never cease.”