If the director can’t make the awards, LMS bring trophies to him!

When the Director of Londonderry Musical Society was forced to miss a glittering awards ceremony because he was in the midst of a gruelling charity walk, the group’s committee were determined that he wouldn’t miss the chance to share in the glory!

Michael Poole, and his friend Gavin Webb (Deputy Stage Manager for LMS), are currently walking from Mizen Head to Malin Head to raise funds in memory of two very special people.

They are scheduled to complete the 428 mile walk on July 21.

They decided to take on the five-week walk in memory of Michael’s sister, Aisling, who passed away from Vasculitis in 2014 and their friend, Chris Doherty, who passed away in September 2021. The men are raising money for Air Ambulance NI and Vasculitis Ireland Awareness.

LMS members celebrate on a country roadside with Gavin Webb and Michael Poole

Michael and Gavin have been keeping all their followers entertained and updated on their progress via their ‘Mission to Malin’ social media pages on Instagram and Facebook.

Speaking to our sister newspaper the ‘Journal’ as they walked towards Ennis in Co. Clare earlier this week, Michael said the extremely inclement weather of the past week had made the walk somewhat more difficult, but that he and Gavin were keeping each other’s spirits up. They also completed ‘quite a bit of training’ in the last few months to prepare for the gruelling challenge.

They left Mizen Head on June 18 and walk around 20-25km a day. The idea to undertake the walk was first ignited three years ago, when Michael joined Gavin for a section of a charity walk from John O’Groat’s to Land’s End.

“We talked then about doing the Mizen Head to Malin Head walk,” said Michael.

Gavin and Michael with the trophies won by Londonderry Musical Society at he AIMS awards

“My sister, Aisling, passed away from complications of vasculitis, which is a quite rare condition and that was who and what we were going to do it for. But then Covid 19 happened and we didn’t really think much more about it.

“Then, in September, our friend, Chris, passed away following a heart attack. It came out of the blue and he was just the same age as us. The Air Ambulance transported him to hospital, so he didn’t die at the scene.

“It also meant that his family, his children and his friends were able to say their goodbyes.

“So we said that we wanted to do the walk for the two charities. We booked it in January and started training and here we are.”

During the course of the charity walk, Londonderry Musical Society were delighted to discover that they had received a numer of nominations in the annual adjudication scheme of the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) for their most recent productions: The Sound of Music and Calamity Jane.

Michael was the Director for both shows and has, in the past, appeared on stage acting and singing with LMS.

A group of LMS members made the long journey to Killarney for the awards ceremony and were thrilled to win the following awards:

Best Programme for The Sound of Music; Best Stage Management for The Sound of music; Best Visual for The Sound of Music; Spirit of AIMS adjudicator special award Donald Hill (60 years service to LMS); Runner-up Best Overall Show for Calamity Jane; Runner-up Best House Management for Calamity Jane; Runner up Best Chorus for Calamity Jane; Runner up Best Actress in a supporting role, Rachel Harley; Runner up Best Female Singer Caitlyn McCrea.

However, the committee members weren’t going to let Michael and Gavin miss out on the success.

So committee members Donald Hill, Christine Deane, Valerie Haslett, Geraldine Hickey, Dawn Stevenson and Judith O’Hare made a detour on their return journey to meet up with the duo in Bantry where they presented them with the trophies on a country road!

Posting on social media, the LMS members said: “It was amazing sharing our AIMS success with LMS’s two main men in our productions of Calamity Jane and The Sound of Music. And the smiles on their faces were priceless and well worth every mile. “

Anyone who wishes to support Michael and Gavin can do so via Justgiving