A Concert to Save Lives

In 2011, a Thames Valley Air Ambulance saved the life of Toby Darrington, a Reading School student who had an accident whilst cycling on Oxford Road.

The following year, his sister Alicia started the Kendrick and Reading Schools' Air Ambulance Charity Concert and it has been thriving ever since.

The concert has become a firm school tradition with students performing and arranging much of the music themselves and raising thousands of pounds for the charity over the years.

This year, the concert was held in the Big School building at Reading School, a change from being held at Kendrick School the previous year.

On the night, there was a raffle and speech from a representative of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance; it was a reminder on why the annual concert is worth organising, as well as the common cause we are all working towards.

Below is what the students had to say:

“Last week, I had the honour of co-hosting the annual air ambulance concert. This concert has a special place in the school calendar. All proceeds from the concert are donated to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance service who save lives every day, responding to over 1000 incidents last year. It's incredible founding story and committed student leadership resulted in a night of emotive performances and an amazing atmosphere. The two hours of sensational music varied from classical quartets to swinging piano solos, and a stunning orchestral suite. I was blown away by the quality of each and every piece. A fantastic concert for a fantastic cause.” - Serena Farrelly (Year 12 and Compere on the night)

“Last week's Air Ambulance concert was the last of many for the Year 13 cohort, making it a particularly special evening for those involved. Many weeks of hard work, under the leadership of Kitty Gingell and Edwin Hughes, lead up to an incredible evening of music. I was so proud to see the musical talent of my peers on show, in amazing solos from Kitty Gingell and Nathan Steele, but the highlight of the concert is always the joint choir and orchestral pieces - the standard achieved this year with the guidance of Patrick Sharman, a fantastically talented and passionate conductor, was phenomenal, and really highlighted the combined ability of the schools when working for such a well-loved and worthy cause.” Roisin Sharkey (Year 13 and Coordinator)

“Thank you so much to everyone involved in the Air Ambulance concert for making it such a special concert for so many of the performers. Having taken part in the concert since Year 8 it has been instrumental to my school life, so I feel particularly sentimental that this year was my last Air Ambulance concert. Through it, I have made amazing friends and memories, that I will treasure” Kitty Gingell (Year 13 and Director)

“I would like to thank every student from our two schools that was involved in the concert. I first took part in the Air Ambulance concert in Year 10, and at that point had no idea that I would be leading it in three years’ time. I think it is an incredible experience for us all, to be involved in such a large student-led activity producing high-quality music. In this way, the older students facilitate the musical development of the younger students who will follow us and will, I hope, continue to reach new heights in their own musicianship and in the achievements of the Air Ambulance concert in years to come. I saw this concert as a means of giving back something of what I have learned from the musical community, that I have been a part of over the last seven years, and I am sorry to be leaving. I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to arrange and conduct ensembles which has developed my own musicianship. It is an honour to work with so many incredibly skilled musicians.  I hope that next years’ participants find it as rewarding and inspiring as I have.” Edwin Hughes (Year 13 and Director)

Alicia Darrington, the founder of the concert, came back this year to celebrate the 7-year legacy with her family, and said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the 7th Air Ambulance Concert. It has truly come a long way since I was at school and I was astonished by both the turnout and the standard of music. Edwin and Kitty have done a fantastic job and you could see how committed each and every individual was to the concert (the orchestra had even roped someone in to play the triangle!). The standing ovation at the end was wholly deserved by all. Congratulations to everyone who took part in this fantastic event. They've all done me so proud!”

In essence, the Kendrick School and Reading School Air Ambulance Concert is a stunning example of just what young people can achieve when we care so deeply about a cause - and are willing to work for the benefit of our community.

If you would like to do your part to help save lives, call the TVAA on:
Telephone - 0300 999 0135
or visit their website at: