I’m handing over the reins of Beestonia to young Beestonian Samir today. Samir was a friend of Chloe Hayden, the girl whose untimely death led to Beeston Square’s floral tribute: a wonderful, understated and incredibly poignant temporary memorial. Samir, with help from others, arranged a memorial concert. I was due to go and write about it, yet I was already pre-booked to interview David Watts, for my sister site. Thus, I asked Samir if he’d like to report, and, despite being deep in the terror of A-Level revision, was good enough to send me this. A big thank you to the journalistically talented Samir who also furnished this article with photos, and a heartening reminder that despite their often bad reputation, Beestonian youth are truly a special bunch. Over to Samir:
Chloe Hayden, RIP.
When we initially heard about Chloe’s death, the day after it occured, everybody at our college (Chilwell Sixth Form) were stunned and didn’t really know what to do. Straight away though, Kirsty Rice and Jamie Garton -friends of Chloe- decided they would conduct some sort of celebration for Chloe involving music. Music was everything for Chloe, an aspiring singer.
When Kirsty and Jamie told me what they were planning on doing, I was reluctant to be a part of it. It was too painful to talk, think or do anything related to the tragedy. She was one of my best friends and we played in gigs throughout Broxtowe, even performing at Beeston Square twice. But I found myself getting increasingly involved as I found that this was a way to keep myself busy and my mind diverted. I had the opportunity to spend hours in front of the piano, trying to come up with a worthy playlist for the night. Despite the upcoming exams, my teachers were very sympathetic and understanding. There were only a few of us organising a mammoth task (Kirsty, myself and Jamie) with help from Alysha Gomes, Natasha Tate and the teachers at our college.
I brought together various young performers (rappers, singers, dancers, instrumentalists) who Chloe was friends with/ had previously performed with. We were aiming for a very personal night, with personal performers and a personal audience. It was only a small theatre, seating around 180.
Kirsty Rice and Alysha Gomes duet.
We practiced various songs for the concert every day after college for weeks. As far as I know, no other celebration evening was being organised for her in the area, so we had to make ours perfect and memorable. One of our songs, played by 8 people, was a modified version of ‘Sweet Disposition‘ by The Temper Trap, which would serve as the finale. Jamie and Jed each wrote a rap verse about Chloe, with Kirsty singing the original chorus.
With primarily acoustic sounds, there was a very profound and organic feel to the whole night. Mr Williams, our head of year -who had known Chloe since the start of secondary school- started the concert with a very emotional acapella of ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me‘, followed by my rather melancholic piano solo (made even more mournful by the silent film of Chloe behind me). There were often moments of pin-drop silence in the audience, broken only by a few quiet sobs as they watched slideshows and muted videos of Chloe constantly playing in the background while we performed. But as the night progressed, the mood of the music changed from Adele-style blues to more rock, pop and dance. People cried, but people also smiled and laughed as funny stories were told about her. Technical hitches led to some impromptu comedy, and Mr Williams served as a perfectly hilarious presenter. He was one of the cool teachers back in school.
The rapping Tremor and Sparx
For me, setting up this concert was a way of coming to terms with Chloe’s death, as I was in a sort of denial for a while. We were told that the night was a kind of closure for some that were still suffering. I hear a rather important person attended (a guy with a large gold-coloured necklace around his neck, maybe the Mayor?); as did Chloe’s mum, older sister and grandma, who were “eternally grateful” for what we had done in Chloe’s memory. There will be now be a ‘Chloe Hayden Award’ presented to a student for contribution to music in the annual school awards evening.
We raised £332, including a £25 donation from the band HarliKings as they sold their EP on the night and provided us with equipment. We’re intending on creating a memorial plaque for her to be put up in the music department, the one place in school where she spent the most time. Perhaps also a flower bush to be grown at our school, and a donation to charity in her name.
Bethan Hay and Hannah Shoreson
A letter sent to me by the Chair of Governors stated that he was very pleased with the way we managed to turn a tragedy into a positive and productive event. Some performers of the night have even been approached by studios and producers that attended. We reunited our year group and old friends for the first time since our Leavers’ Assembly last year. Local musician Richard Bradshaw and myself are working on creating a tribute album for Chloe, using musicians from the night as well as samples of her own voice. Maybe it will be released on the anniversary of her untimely death in the hope of sounding a positive note on a sad day.
The Finale: "Sweet Disposition"