To continue this wee break from the Chronicles of the Bold Joff; may I present you with an intermission of sorts today?

I think this post is particularly pleasant as it includes both a circular chain of events and evidence of the “kindness of strangers” – a phrase that has been in use in our household since Joff was about 1 year old and was given funds by local night clubbers in Elgin to help us buy a specially adapted swing for him. That was the first of many such kindnesses by strangers.

There is a wonderful lady living in Massachusetts who has a young man with Lowe about a year older than Joff. About 10 years ago we had exchanged only a few emails about our boys before we realised we both had similar senses of humour. She asked me for “some Scottish jokes”. Well, I was a bit flummoxed, I do love jokes but I couldn’t remember lots of good Scottish ones and went googling for some. At the top of the list was a link for a forum called FirstFoot. For people not aware of the phrase – it’s a custom throughout the UK, but widely done here in Scotland where the first person that comes over your threshold after the New Year Bells at midnight brings good fortune to the household, especially if they’re bearing food and drink, and are a tall, dark-haired man.

So I began reading some of the sections of the FirstFoot website and literally was crying laughing at the patter. I read it over a few weeks then decided to join in their forum. And from that FirstFoot forum I ended up making some absolutely brilliant friends in real life – people who liked hearing about Joff but I didn’t have to talk about him exclusively, people who cared about our ups and downs as a family and helped us through quite a few rough times. People who also have a passion and talent for performing and vast knowledge about folk music that drew me into dusting off my guitar after a couple of decades, and even singing the odd song in public myself! It didn’t matter how obscure a song I chose, or how crap my singing was, they made me feel included and welcome.

In 2007, two of these friends came to our local pub to perform at the folk club. They got chatting with the organiser of the club asking where would be good to put on a benefit gig for Joff in Dunfermline. The kindness of strangers kicked in…Strangers and our friends alike prepared to give us their time and talents to organise and participate in a benefit for the Lowe Syndrome Association.

The next three annual events were mainly organised by two dear friends, John McCreadie and Kenny Caird, sadly, both no longer with us. After they died there wasn’t the heart to go on in the same way. Round about the same time, the FirstFoot forum closed down too. End of an era.

Then we got a phone call from two pals early this year, Jim King and Steven Clark, who believed that it was time to continue the legacy and kindly organised this years’ gig, with a twist, as it was to be hosted by the incomparable comedian Stu Who? It was the first time I’d seen him perform, and he was hysterically funny. I love the bones of him. Also appearing were pals Claire and Gavin Livingstone, exciting young band Papa Shandy and the Drams and the magical Dick Gaughan headlined, ahead of the election, and on St. George’s day, playing Both Sides the Tweed as part of a stunning set.

Here’s a pic of Stu and I putting the world to rights….

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I’ve reduced this to quite a quick story, but there are thousands of hours of memories, music, laughter and love from friends and strangers who helped in all sorts of ways to build this event over the years. We’ve been proud to raise awareness of Lowe and forward quite a few thousand dollars to fund research into this ultra-rare condition.

I feel frustrated that words alone can’t do the many participants’ contributions justice, but I really hope they know that we are forever grateful for them and count them firmly amongst our blessings.

…………………………It all started from a single nonsense genetic mutation…………………………

Here are two clips from the 3rd gig in 2010. In the first, the gang are singing “Geronimo’s Cadillac” with none other than Dick Gaughan, who has been an epic friend to Team Fisher. In the second, I’m doing a little singing, the two gents at the start are Kenny and John, heroes both, then watch my vocal turn to ratshit when lovely Jim and Steven are joined by Dick Gaughan…I have been a lucky lass. Fans of X-Factor, be kind with your comments ;D

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