One of Harrogate’s leading jewellers has put his secret love of rock music to good by releasing a feel-good charity Chrismas single to raise funds for a local school.
Better known for helping run Ogden jewellers, the family business on James Street first established in 1893, what makes Robert Ogden’s involvement in rocking fundraising record I’ve Seen Santa even more remarkable is he is a former professional opera singer who was highly regarded at an international level.
Recorded with his long-term band Bilko, not only is every penny from the festive release going to the playground refurbishment at Western Primary School, some of the pupils even have major singing roles in the song.
Robert said: “I’ve always felt like a rock musician manqué, even when I was fully involved in opera, though my drumming does needs a lot of work!
“It’s a different experience playing in a band compared with performing an operatic role, but there are a lot of similarities as well: the best opera singers and the best rock performers are always totally in the moment, working on the crowd’s emotion. “
Bilko are made up of drummer Ogden, lead guitarist Brad Dickinson and bassist/keyboardist Mark Blackmore who wrote I’ve Seen Santa.
It’s a novel project for everyone involved but one which is close to the band’s heart, for two of the members have children who are pupils at Western Primary School.
And Blackmore says the band, who perform covers as well as their own songs, are delighted by the way it has all turned out on the single.
He said:”The PTA at Western have already done so much to raise funds for this new playground but the band wanted to do our bit.
"When I grew up in the 70s and 80s Christmas singles took over the charts, and I loved their direct appeal and wide-eyed love of all things tinselly.
"When the appeal for the school playground came, I was ready with the perfect song.
“We’ve made sure that I’ve Seen Santa has all the ingredients of those classic Christmas singles everyone remembers - uplifting lyrics, bells, key changes and a children’s chorus, of course.”
For the actual recording session mssrs Blackmore, Dickinson and Ogden were joined by nearly 40 pupils at the school.
The Harrogate youngsters turned out to be perfect for the role and the recording was all done and dusted in a couple of sessions in the studio.
Blackmore even went so far as to say: “The children were naturals and took to the recording process in style.”
The school is also pleased with the results and is hoping for a good cash windfall to enable them to provide the outdoor space pupils really need.
Ala Blackmore from the Parent Teacher Association of Western Primary School said: “Built back in 1897, Western has 460 pupils and is a busy school. Outside space is at a premium.
“The refurbishment will make the most of the limited space we have, adding a small astro turf pitch and structures for sitting, reading and playing.
“We are really grateful to Mark and the rest of Bilko for doing the single. All we need now is for everyone to download it and do their bit to help build the playground.”