Ash guitarist Mark helps his dad raise money for Cancer Focus

Ash guitarist Mark helps his dad raise money for Cancer Focus

24 June 2020

DOWNPATRICK musician Mark Hamilton is continuing to raise money for Cancer Focus NI with the help of his dad, Neil.

The bass player with highly acclaimed local band Ash, Mark said a special ‘thank you’ to Neil on Father’s Day last weekend for making popular guitar and bass string bracelets to raise funds for the cash-strapped charity which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The brass string bracelets have hit the right note with Ash fans who have been snapping them up, helping raise £7,000 for the charity.

Since lockdown, Cancer Focus has had to suspend many of its services for local cancer patients and their families and has furloughed most staff due to the coronavirus.

In addition, the charity has also had to postpone its fundraising events, so donations are even more vital during the current crisis. 

The latest batch of bracelets are from guitar and bass strings played during Ash’s recent European tour which was cancelled half-way through. 

Over the last year, Mark’s dad has made hundreds of bangles as souvenirs from a host of the band’s concerts played all over the world. 

Mark has thanked Ash and Snow Patrol fans for supporting the #RockBangle project for Cancer Focus NI. 

He revealed that while around £7,000 has been raised to date, it is hoped to sell more bracelets once Ash’s tour recommences, whenever that may be. 

Mark continued: “Big thanks also to my dad who has worked so hard on making these bangles in his shed and I wished him a Happy Father’s Day from my lockdown home in Northumberland. 

“Unfortunately, we cannot tour until the pandemic is over but, luckily, we had a bunch of strings saved from the shows before the crisis postponed the rest of our tour.”

Mark said that hopefully, it won’t be too long before the world gets back to normal, urging people to  stay safe and healthy until then.

Mark donated the proceeds of the bracelets to Cancer Focus because of his mum Miriam who has now thankfully survived cancer three times. 

Miriam has received great support from the charity over the years and is also one of the founder members of its support group in Downpatrick, helping other women who’ve been diagnosed with cancer.   

Mark — who sells the bangles on his social media channels — explained that making the bracelets is a team effort. 

“I weave and cut the strings to size and my dad solders the joints together making what was an ugly joint into something that resembles a metal pearl,” he explained. “They look nice, but raw and rustic. I want them to retain a bit of that rock ‘n roll aesthetic.”  

Cancer Focus NI’s Rosie Forsythe said the charity cannot thank Mark and his dad enough for all their hard work and generosity. 

“Cancer Focus NI relies on donations for over 90% of our income,” she explained.

“We’ve had to postpone our fundraising events and as a result our income has reduced to seriously low levels, so we are particularly grateful at this hugely challenging time.” 

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the charity to help it survive to continue supporting local cancer patients and their families into the future is asked to visit