Music stars set to unite for cross-Atlantic cancer fundraiser

Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church will join forces with a host of comedians, musicians and poets in Wimbledon to raise money for a cancer charity on Monday.

The benefit gig, titled Billy Bragg & Friends Present a Night for Helen & Barry, will bring big names James Acaster, Daniel Kitson, Grace Petrie, Mark Thomas, Hollie McNish and Alexei Sayle to the New Wimbledon Theatre in support of CLIC Sargent and cancer sufferer Helen Crimmins.

Robin Ince, who co-hosts BBC Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage, put the gig together to help the American comedian Barry Crimmins cover the expensive health care costs of his wife’s cancer treatment in the United States.

Robin said: “This is probably one of the best charity bills I’ve ever put together.

“The kind of human beings who are on that stage are people who have a really wonderful humanity, and are prepared to give up time to do things to try and help other people.

“And Barry and Helen deserve that help.”

Helen Crimmins was diagnosed with ovarian and cervical cancer in February and has since been using the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise $25,000 (£19,000) for medical costs.

Robin said: “The United States of America prides itself on apparently being this great civilisation, yet it prioritises the ownership of guns far higher than it prioritises proper access to healthcare.”

In a statement to be read out at the event, she says: “I tremble a lot just with the knowledge of what is going on inside of my body.

“Cancer is expensive.

“Medical bills are a large chunk of what can drain a sick person’s bank account, but little comforts are another expense that adds up.”

She adds: “Even with insurance, where theoretically I’m supposed to pay a maximum of $10,000 [£7,500] out of pocket every year, I have been buried.”

Barry, a political satirist, said: “We are enjoying each moment we can and doing a pretty good job of it.

“We are also, and quite literally, clinging to one another for dear life.”

After a previous diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2005, Helen fought a two-year battle with the disease.

During this time, she was infected with MRSA, meaning that intravenous chemotherapy is no longer an option and she must pay for more expensive oral chemotherapy pills.

Robin said: “One of the main drives behind this was to make sure there was enough money so that Barry didn’t have to leave Helen to go and make money for what should just be a basic human right.

“Barry was going to have to constantly be on the road as a stand up just to make sure they had enough.”

Helen and Barry will be watching the gig over Skype from their home in a rural part of New York State.

Robin’s line up reflects decades of musical and comedic talent.

Now 48, he recalls buying his first Billy Bragg album at the age of 13.

He said: “It’s like a whole day at a really good festival in terms of its poetry, comedy and its music.

“It’s such brilliant causes and it will be a great night.”

Barry joked: “I do hope Billy sings ‘Help Save the Youth of America’.”

All proceeds of the gig will be split between Helen’s treatment and UK children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent, with all performers donating their time for free in aid of the cause.

Doors will open at 7:00pm and tickets, starting at £15.00, are available at http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/for-helen-and-barry/new-wimbledon-theatre/


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