Local Hereford alternative rock and indie music promoter Kirsty Morris is off on an epic journey this year to the Great Wall of China for a fundraising event of a lifetime to support local charity St. Michael’s Hospice.
She has received support from local businesses in Hereford and tickets donations from well-loved summer music festivals around the country to auction off and sell towards raising donations at her next fundraising event taking place at the Booth Hall on East Street this weekend. Kirsty has also received donations from some pretty famous bands around the country. She has been hard at work!
Hereford City Centric wanted to know more about this great trek being taken on by such an admirable woman and how close she is to her fundraising goals.
Political aspects are not something I really think of when I travel, as long as the areas I travel to are deemed as safe, then I really tend not to worry about such things.
Hereford City Centric: Hello Kirsty, you are actively involved in music promoting in Hereford with your promotion group Hey Little Monster, can you tell us a bit about the music you put on and what drives this interest?
Kirsty Morris: Well, music is one of my passions in life, I love going to gigs and festivals. Last time I counted, I have been to well over 300 gigs and festivals. I first got involved in promoting gigs as part of Hereford Live a few years back. Through this, and thanks to the faith Rich Lovell (Underground Revolution) continually has in me, I was lucky enough to get the chance to run the acoustic stage at local Down On The Farm Festival. This year will be my 4th year of doing so!
For my Hey Little Monster shows I like to support local artists as much as I can, and also bring in acts that people may not have seen in Herefordshire before. But the overall drive behind it all is my passion for music. All shows I put on are 100% non-profit, as I feel it is important that musicians get paid for playing. There is no real restriction in the genre of music that my shows incorporate, I like to be as inclusive as possible, but I guess I mainly focus on Alternative, Rock and Indie music as that’s the kind of music that I am into. That said, as long as the quality of music is high, then pretty much anything goes!
Stereophonics have donated a signed picture. Ocean Colour Scene also have donated an amazing signed photo. There have been signed CD’s and vinyl come in from Feeder and Grant Nicholas and Shaun Ryder has personally signed a Black Grape Anniversary CD/DVD.
HCC: You put on some brilliant shows which you run on your own and is stressful at times – I admire you for that. I really enjoyed your last show with headliner Raptor and Down on the Farm is always a favourite with locals. The atmosphere is amazing and it is very family friendly, which is a bonus on top of the great bands they source each year for both stages. Rich Lovell is a great mentor to us both and we are lucky to have him. How did the curious name Hey Little Monster come about?
KM: I was looking to get into putting gigs on as a hobby and at the time I was listening to Royal Blood’s album – the name “Hey Little Monster” comes from a line in one of their songs. So in true Noel Gallagher style I thought, “I am having that.” I thought it would make a quirky and fun name for my gig nights!
The next fundraising night is a Britpop and 90’s night at The Booth Hall on Saturday 3rd June.
HCC: Quirky and fun just like you. This year you plan on taking a 55km trek across the Great Wall of China to raise funds for St. Michael’s Hospice. How on earth did this idea come together? Was it an epiphany or were you inspired by someone?
KM: Well, something popped up on my timeline on Facebook one day last year that said: “Would you like to trek The Great Wall Of China for charity?”. As travelling is my other passion in life and I have always wanted to see The Great Wall, it took all of a millisecond to answer yes to that question! As for who I was going to raise money for, it was a total no-brainer. St. Michael’s Hospice does amazing work in Herefordshire, and I know from friends just how vital their work and support is. They need as much financial support as possible, so it was a very easy choice to make them my nominated charity for the trek. I just wanted to do my bit to help, I try and raise a bit for them each year, but this time I thought why not do something bigger and crazier!
HCC: It certainly is big and crazy but pretty noble and I admire you beyond words for it. This trip is also quite physically ambitious, what are you doing to prepare for this journey and are you receiving any local fitness support?
KM: Haha, well anyone that knows me knows that I like my food, I like my beer and dodge most forms of exercise! So, yes for me, it will be a huge challenge, but one I am really looking forward to. To start with, I am trying to build up my general fitness levels before starting to increase the miles I walk in preparation for the trek. I have lots of trips planned to various walking routes around the country so I can get used to the distances I will cover on the trek and the different types of terrain I will encounter. That is as far as I have got with the fitness side, so far. The company that runs the trek offers very good support and advice on training so I think I have that side covered, I just need to get my boots on and get out there!
HCC: Yes I know your love of food and beer, very similar to mine. I have a feeling this is going to be a life-changing experience for you.
How is the trip being funded? I know you are hosting a series of music events to support this charity trek, can you tell us how it has been going so far, and about the fundraiser gig coming up this Saturday, June 3rd at The Booth Hall? It seems you have lots of wonderful raffle prizes and a great theme. Is there also an auction?
KM: Well, the trip is organised through a company called Global Adventure Challenges. In order to take part in the challenge, I need to raise £2600. Half of that goes directly to the hospice, anything above that amount raised will also go directly to the Hospice. Yes, holding music events is my main source of fundraising. I held a Jimi Hendrix tribute gig back in April, this raised over £500 on the night which was incredible! 2000 Trees Festival kindly donated 2 x weekend tickets to this year’s festival, which have already been sold off to the highest bidder. My current total is running at around £1200.
The next fundraising night is a Britpop and 90’s night at The Booth Hall on Saturday 3rd June. There will be 2 live sets of 90’s classics played by 90’s tribute band, ‘The Britpop Boys’, then Tristan Edwards will be taking over on DJ duties after the live music to turn the night into a 90’s night, so we will be partying 90’s style into the small hours! Entry is £10, that covers entry for the live music and the 90’s DJ night afterward.
There will be a raffle on the night, I have been very lucky to have had some amazing prizes on offer thanks to some very kind donations. 1st prize is 2 x weekend tickets to the Back To The 80’s & 90’s Festival that is held in Leicestershire in August. Other prizes include 2 x weekend tickets to Gillow Cider and Music Festival, 2 x weekend tickets to Cloggerfest and a huge box of goodies donated by Wye Valley Brewery. Tickets are only £1 each or 5 for £4.
I also have some silent auctions lined up. Dodgy have kindly donated a pair of tickets on their guest list for this year’s Star Shaped Festival in Birmingham. These shows are almost sold out and have some huge bands playing. I am also very grateful that local artist Ria has kindly commissioned 3 unique and original pieces of art. She has painted 3 incredible canvases, all with a “Britpop” theme. Ria has kindly donated her time and skill for free to do these pieces for me, and I really do thank her for that. These will also be sold off via silent auction. These pieces deserve to make a lot of money so I hope people appreciate the time and skill that went into painting them and dig deep to get that winning bid!
I have also had some incredible items donated by some massive bands. Stereophonics have donated a signed picture. Ocean Colour Scene also have donated an amazing signed photo. There have been signed CD’s and vinyl come in from Feeder and Grant Nicholas and Shaun Ryder has personally signed a Black Grape Anniversary CD/DVD. I also have replica Oasis 7” vinyl’s and Oasis lyric posters. These will be sold off on a first come, first served basis on the night.
HCC: Absolutely Amazing Kirsty! All very impressive charitable donations from notable musicians, I can see you have put a lot of work into this charity event. Cloggerfest is certainly on my bucket list and would love to check out Star Shaped Festival too. Are you receiving any support from local businesses? It would be great if they were behind you as this is a great cause.
KM: Yes, I have had some very generous donations and support from local businesses. First of all, I must thank my employer, Wyemart Limited in Rotherwas. They have been amazingly supportive of the trek and the fundraising that I am doing for it. I also must thank Arran, Willow and everyone at The Booth Hall for their constant support for the fundraising events that I am putting on there.
I have also had donations locally from Wye Valley Brewery, Franks Luxury Biscuits, Halo Leisure, Oaker Wood, Weston’s Cider, The Den, Tyrrells, David Fletcher at Gillow Cider to name but a few. Hereford FC have also agreed to me having a bucket collection at one the first home games of the new season. Donations are coming in all of the time but if anyone would like to donate something then do please get in touch!
I have also had some incredible donations from companies further afield. These include donations of festival tickets from 2000 Trees Festival, James Dean Events and David Owen at Cloggerfest.
HCC: When you get to China, which is probably a trek in itself, what will happen? Will there be anyone there to meet you? Are you travelling on your own? Where will you sleep and how will have access to meals?
KM: The trek is organised and ran by Global Adventure Challenges, they do all of the organising. It is a guided group trek, with 15-20 participants. I am travelling on my own but will be trekking with a group of people. When we land in Beijing, we will have the rest of the day to meet the rest of the group and recover from the flight. Then for the next 5 days it will be the trek itself. The trek will cover 55km over 5 consecutive days. We will be staying in local guesthouses that are situated along the foot of The Great Wall itself, meals and water will be provided along the whole route.
HCC: Will there be a way for us to follow your journey and support you from Hereford? I am sure many of us will be wanting to be there for moral support and watch you as you go along.
KM: That is something I am working on, China has huge restrictions on internet use and especially social media sites, but I am hoping to keep people updated through my Great Wall Of China Facebook page.
HCC: It is a Communist country with strict controls on its citizens, and it is easy to forget how comfortable things are for us in the Western world. Are there any political or cultural aspects you are concerned about that could become a challenge?
KM: Not really, I love to travel and I love to get involved with local cultures and meet the people of the areas I go to. Political aspects are not something I really think of when I travel, as long as the areas I travel to are deemed as safe, then I really tend not to worry about such things. Life is for living and people should never be scared to go to places and experience the sights and cultures that the world has to offer.
HCC: I agree, scaremongering keeps us divided. Lastly, what date do you plan on taking off and is there a time frame you have set to accomplish this journey? How long does it normally take to cross the wall on foot? Do you need a water girl?
KM: The trip officially runs from 7th – 15th October, with 5 consecutive days of trekking. All 55km will be completed in these 5 days, there is a set plan on where we trek each day and the distances we need to cover. Some days are easier than others! The wall itself is over 5,000 miles long and estimates say it would take someone 18 months to walk its entire length! A water carrier would be good, but a beer carrier would be better!!
HCC: I have a lot of beer! You may need to pull me along in a little red wagon though, so I better not volunteer for that job. Hereford City Centric wishes you a safe and successful journey and admires you for your personal contribution to St. Michael’s Hospice which is also an incredible endeavor for a lone female to accomplish.
KM: Thank you, and thank you to everyone who is supporting me in my journey. My family and friends are really pulling out all of the stops in helping me reach my fundraising target and I am very grateful for their help and support.
If anyone would like to donate then please visit my Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/KirstyMorrisChinaTrek2017