Harpist's CD for South African community

ELAINE Halton has been mastering the Celtic harp for 20 years but was only moved to record her first CD in a bid to help a struggling South African community.

SUFFOLK: Elaine Halton has been mastering the Celtic harp for 20 years but was only moved to record her first CD in a bid to help a struggling South African community.

Mrs Halton, from Lower Oakley, is a retired head of music at Diss High School but is a talented musician and still plays a number of instruments, including the Celtic harp and piano.

The money raised from her first CD, called Lagan Streams, will go towards providing clean water for the village of Washbank, in Natal Province, South Africa.

Mrs Halton, 73, said she became aware of the plight of the village's residents after meeting a priest from the area during a pilgrimage several years ago.


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She said: “I didn't want to do it for my own personal vanity. In 2001 I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and it was only eight weeks after 9/11 and nobody was going there. Ten of us ended up going and there was not one other tourist there and this priest was our tour guide. We had a wonderful time and since then we have kept in touch.”

During a recent conversation with the priest, Mrs Halton learned that the village was in desperate need of a well to help stop the spread of disease and she felt compelled to record the CD in a bid to raise funds.

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Mrs Halton started teaching in Diss in 1970 and retired a few years ago but still performs regularly at concerts, plays the organ at her parish church every Sunday and runs a local hand bell ringing team.

She said: “I was married to an Irishman and about 20 years ago we went to Donegal and it was there we saw people walking around with traditional instruments and they were having a summer school. We went to concerts and enjoyed it so much that my husband said 'do you fancy learning the harp?' so the following year I went to the summer school for a week and then for the next few years and I picked it up.”

She now plays with other folk musicians every week and launched her CD at the Queen's Head Inn, in Stradbroke.

Anyone interested in purchasing the album, priced �7 with an extra �1.50 for postage and packaging, can call Mrs Halton on 01379 740238 or email ashdale@madasafish.com

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