24 hour Ceilidh for Cancer

27th – 28th September 2013

Click here for time-lapse footage of the Ceilidh     More photographs below the report.

On the 27th of September 2013, Lismore was the place to be. After months of organisation we put on our 24hr Ceilidh for Cancer Research and MacMillan Cancer Support, people came in their droves and those who couldn’t come donated their hard earned cash to a cause so close to the hearts of so many.

It all started with an idea, something crazy that would put much needed smiles back on our faces. Initially our team comprised of myself (Laura Cook), and Neil Carmichael. Before long we had convinced our family and friends to join the Ceilidh Committee, Marie Carmichael, Mary MacDougall, Peter MacDougall, Douglas MacDougall, Lorne MacDougall, Duncan MacLean, Murray Willis, Denise Willis and Anne MacCormick. Everybody on the committee had been affected by cancer in one way or another, so the cause was very close to our hearts.

By the time Friday the 27th of September came we had so many people on board I could fill the page naming them all, we had our tenting team, who erected two marquees down at the local hall, BBQ builders, who converted a JCB front bucket into a bbq, caterers who helped us feed hundreds of people, cleaners, who helped keep the ceilidh looking civilised and helped cleaning after the event. Local retailers Breckenridges, who provided fruit and vegetables to our catering team, Forteiths, who provided some food products to our catering team and all the energy drinks and soft drinks for the BYOB bar, Bookers Cash and Carry, who provided us with all the table wear, cups and glasses. We also had support from Caledonian MacBrayne and the crew of ‘The Eigg’ who put on a late ferry on the Saturday night, to take ceilidhers home for a much needed rest. All the companies and individuals who donated raffle prizes, Scottish Seafarms who provided our catering team with 14 salmon to help feed the masses, Marine Harvest who sponsored their employee Peter MacDougall, £500 to ceilidh for 24hrs straight, and the crew of ‘The Lismore’ who kept on running until all the ceilidhers arrived.

We had a fantastic line up of musicians and bands, who gave of their time and talents, and did a sterling job keeping us all going through the full 24hr period. Unfortunately 2 bands had to pull out at the last minute due to illness, however Murray Willis made some changes, filled in the gaps, and the show went on. Special thank you to Gavin MacColl, who picked up any box available and kept the live music going.

Friday night started as any good Liosach dance would, we kicked off the night with Dùn Mòr who came all the way from Tiree to play for us, we also saw Mairi Campbell, Tom Campbell Payne, Griogair Labhruidh, Duncan Ferguson and Arthur Cross, Ceol an Aire, Ricky Ross and Crofting Furiously, we also welcomed Angus John MacInnes from Lochmaddy, who was our sound engineer for the full 24 hour period, and also managed to sneak in a song or two for us as well.
At 3.30am we had a refreshment break and provided curry to those who needed it. The dancing continued with gusto until around 7am, when numbers started to dwindle a little (only the die hard 24hr Ceilidhers and those who were being sponsored to stay the distance kept going).
At 8 am we had breakfast rolls available to those who needed them, and the music continued outside whilst we cleaned the hall ready for the kids club at 11 O Clock.
The children played with instruments, and learned a couple of simple Gàidhlig songs, which a small group performed at the formal ceilidh. Saturday lunch time, and we had a full house again for another refuel, after which the formal ceilidh got underway, with performances from special guests Morag and Calum Smith, Angus Nicolson , Andreas Wolff and of course our kids club group, not to mention our vast range of local artists including Davy Garrett, Donnie and Gregor MacCormick, Robbie Smith, Mary MacDougall, Katie Cook, Rachel MacCormick, Sophie King, Shona Wright, Katy Crossan, Duncan Livingston, Arthur Cross, Moira Thomson, Sarah Campbell and Claire Haworth.
All the while the music and general carnival atmosphere continued outside in the sunshine.
After the formal ceilidh, Anne Livingstone had everybody back on their feet for the Country Dancing masterclass, we then had our raffle, which was drawn by Neil Carmichael and his glamorous assistants Eileen Carmichael and Kara Willis. The Auction followed the raffle, when Donnie MacCormick took centre stage and auctioned off a signed and framed Rangers Football Strip (Donated by Ian Inch), a Salmon (donated by Scottish Seafarms), two lambs (donated by Donnie MacCormick and Jim MacCormick), and a Yearling (donated by John Carmichael). The Auction raised £720!!!!

Then the dancing got underway again. At 6.45pm a new group of musicians arrived to inject a wee bit more energy in for the last blast!!!! We welcomed Ross MacPherson, Dougie and Deirdre Beck, who had travelled from the Feis nan Gaidheal AGM in Edinburgh just to play for the last dance or two. At 7.40pm we were all set up for the Orcadian Strip the willow, spectators stood in the bar tent, musicians lined the verge and 56 couples were out on the road to dance what would be our last dance. At 8pm, we all joined in auld lang syne and bid each other goodnight. It was truly magical. A wee special mention has to go to Eilidh The Ceilidh MacFadyen (Dùn Mòr) who hails from Tiree, Eilidh played through the night on Friday and much of the day on Saturday, she was last seen still playing her box as she boarded the Calmac ferry back to Oban on Saturday night, now that’s devotion for you!!!!!

The 24hr Ceilidh raised over £6500 for Cancer Research and MacMillan Cancer Support, which is fantastic, it’s double what we had hoped for. However for myself, Neil and the rest of the Ceilidh Committee, the money was actually not our top priority. Our aim was to raise money and SMILES. The atmosphere throughout the whole weekend was fantastic, we had Liosaich and visitors alike laughing joking and dancing in the road (including the American visitor who stumbled over our culture and heritage whilst looking for the ‘Heritage Centre’, and stayed to enjoy it first hand), the sense of community and of belonging that people felt was heartwarming and quite overwhelming.Everybody was welcome to join us, and join us they did. People put aside any differences and we were all united against Cancer, it was a sense of community that is rarely seen anywhere these days, and that no amount of money could buy.

All that remains now is to thank YOU, each and every one of you.


Here are some photographs taken during the day(s). If you have photos you would like to share, click here to email them to us.

Photographs provided by the Website group, Pauline Dowling and others on 30th September 2013
Another 20 photographs provided by Pauline Dowling on 2nd October 2013
Another 14 photographs provided by Pauline Dowling on 3rd October 2013


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