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'Incredible, emotional': Musician fighting brain tumour reunites with bandmate for folk festival

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:09 18 August 2019

The Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Two years since an inoperable brain tumour forced him to stop touring, a Suffolk folk singer has joined his old musical partner for an emotional reunion at Glemham Hall's FolkEast festival.

The Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mat Bayfield and Eric Sedge started performing as folk duo The Broadside Boys in 2012, quickly making their names in the Suffolk live music scene.

In 2017 the pair embarked on a mammoth 100-date tour - but tragedy struck their ambitions when Mr Bayfield had to stop three-quarters of the way through due to ill health.

The brain tumour he had been diagnosed left him in a hospital bed while Mr Sedge finished the tour solo - but the pair reunited for fans at Glemham Hall - where they first played together in 2012 - for a nostalgic and heart-rending set.

"It was just fantastic, really incredible to take to the stage there again," said Mr Bayfield.

Crowds enjoyed a one off gig by the Broadside Boys   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrowds enjoyed a one off gig by the Broadside Boys Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"It was where we played our first Broadside Boys gig and my grandfather was a gamekeeper there for 50 years, so it mean a huge amount to me to come back for this.

"I'm very proud of this place."

A heartfelt gig shoulder-to-shoulder with his friend of over 30 years was just one of the many things Mr Bayfield wanted to do after receiving an update about his illness.

Mr Bayfield said: "Three weeks ago I was told my brain tumour is terminal, so I'm back to receiving chemotherapy, but I'm not going to be negative.

The Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"My wife Kelly has been incredible supporting me through this as well so I've got to thank her.

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"I'm going to be a grandad in November too, my daughter is going to have a little girl. I'm desperate to see that.

"I don't know how long I'm supposed to live for, I've never wanted to know that.

Crowds enjoyed a one off gig by the Broadside Boys   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrowds enjoyed a one off gig by the Broadside Boys Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"Some people get given three months to live and they're gone in a week. I've never wanted to live waiting for that to happen.

"My motto, and I've got it tattooed on my arm, is 'It's not a rehearsal'."

Opening the three-day celebrations at the stately Suffolk home, The Broadside Boys were welcomed back to the stage on an overcast day to an audience that refused to let the drizzle dampen their spirits.

In their two-year hiatus, Mr Sedge worked on his solo career, while Mr Bayfield joined forces with fellow folk musician David Edward Booth to make a new band, Bayfield Booth.

The Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Broadside Boys got the crowd going at a special one off gig Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"It was really hard watching Eric from a hospital bed," added Mr Bayfield.

"I was really disappointed for lots of reasons after I had to stop the tour. Eric and I were always friends but I went on to play with David Booth and most of the time we perform together as Bayfield Booth.

"But FolkEast was coming up and Eric and I got talking a couple of months ago - before we knew it we had a reunion show planned.

"It's great nostalgia to play with Eric again and our songs always go down well. They're all written about places and people in Suffolk, most of them come from within 100 years of each other."

Crowds enjoyed a one off gig by the Broadside Boys   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrowds enjoyed a one off gig by the Broadside Boys Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Bayfield and his wife Kelly have worked tirelessly since his diagnosis, organising sponsored walks with hundreds of attendees in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity.

The pair's 31 walks in January 2017 raised over £40,000, with more than 500 people taking part in their stomp close to Glemham Hall.

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