Cariboo Gold Dance Band members Glenn Robson and Willa Julius played throughout the afternoon on Sunday at Elks Hall for concert and silent auction fundraiser for TubaJohn and Debbie Sykes.

Cariboo Gold Dance Band members Glenn Robson and Willa Julius played throughout the afternoon on Sunday at Elks Hall for concert and silent auction fundraiser for TubaJohn and Debbie Sykes.

Capacity crowd for John and Debbie Sykes tribute fundraiser

A capacity crowd gathered at Elks Hall on Sunday at a fundraiser for local musician John Sykes and his wife Debbie Sykes.

A capacity crowd gathered at Elks Hall on Sunday at a fundraiser for local musician John Sykes and his wife Debbie Sykes—both long-time volunteers and community supporters.

John, diagnosed with cancer, is expected to return to Williams Lake this week after treatment in Kelowna, and the fundraiser was held to help support the couple and their family.

The event was organized by Elizabeth Cornett, Rocco Catalano, Sharon Hoffman, Sheila Wyse and Dena Baumann, with support from many others for the decorating, silent auction, refreshments and music.

High school students who have played with Tubajohn were among the volunteers who arrived at the hall at 9 a.m. and stayed throughout the day.

There was music by the Youth Fiddle Society, Willow, Quintet Plus, Williams Lake Community Band, Cariboo Gold Dance Band and the Cariboo Men’s Choir, with Rocco Catalano and Dena Baumann as MCs for the afternoon.

The lively event included dancing and singing and the opportunity to give back to someone who made astounding contributions to the community through his music, and to elementary and high school bands through his mentorship and inspiration.

Debbie’s son Tim Westwick and daughter Annaka Richter expressed warm gratitude for the organizers of the event and for community members who rallied to support John and Debbie and their family.

The Cariboo Men’s Choir performed pieces that included The Rose, I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You and Hallelujah. Quintet Plus, directed by Sharon Hoffman and Debbie Browning plus did a medley of songs from ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Coat’ and Every Time I Feel the Spirit.

Organizer Sharon Hoffman said that the silent auction was a big success, with generous donations and generous bidding. More than $6,000 was raised at the event, reports Jeannine Morgan.

Hoffman also said that there is an account set up at the Williams Lake and District Credit Union for John and Debbie Sykes under the name ‘Tubajohn’ for people who wish to donate.

“People donated through the silent auction, donations in the ‘giant tuba’ and the account set up at the credit union. We estimate that 500 people came through the doors throughout the afternoon,” she explained.

“Everybody loves John and Debbie and so support what they have done for the community, and welcomed the opportunity to help out today.”

At least two musical pieces were re-written in John’s honour, Boogie Woogie Tuba Boy by acapella singing group Willow, and Oh Johnny Boy (see below) performed by Rocco Catalano and George Cornett.

Long-time friend and fellow musician Glenn Robson said it was an honour to play Tubajohn’s tuba with the Cariboo Gold Dance Band at the fundraiser on Sunday. “I told him I’m just borrowing it and that it’s here waiting for him,” Robson said.

“Seeing the outpouring from this community today just feels right. This is the kind of generosity that John and Debbie gave from their hearts, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to give it back.

Oh Johnny Boy

“Oh Johnny Boy, the bands the bands are calling you

To take your chair and play your tuba sweet

Carry us away with the music in your soul

And blow pure pleasure for our ears to greet.

 

 

But come ye back as soon as you are able

Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow

And we’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow

Oh Johnny lad, oh Johnny lad we love you so.

 

 

When you return we will be waiting for you

This will reveal how much we’ve missed you so

You’ve paid it forward so far ahead of now

Just sit you back in admiration’s glow.

 

 

And we shall feel your tuba playing in our hearts

And we shall see you casting on the lake

And we will know the youth and those you’ve helped

Will have an inner strength through you from which to take

Oh Johnny lad, Oh Johnny lad we love you so.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health has issued an overdose alert for 100 Mile House.
Interior Health issues overdose alert for 100 Mile House

Health officials encourage users to be careful and spread the word.

A snowfall warning has been issued for Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Black Press Media)
Snowfall warning issued for Cariboo region

Between 10 to 15 cm expected

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Williams Lake’s YBC Bowlers Remy LeBlanc (back from left), coach Kevin McAlpine, Kara-lynn McAlpine, coach Lindsey Kelley, coach Lisa Mcalpine, Avrel Kidney (middle from left), Weston Kelly, Renee O’Hara, Lily Stewart, Brandon LeBlanc, Serena Kidney (front from left), Elsa Kunka and Colton Lendvoy have managed to carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic while following health guidelines. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Youth bowlers still throwing strikes, despite pandemic

Young bowlers have been able to carry on relatively unaffected due to the nature of the sport

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nations are awaiting word of when they will receive their second dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘We need the second round’: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse questions vaccine roll-out

It’s been 42 days since Tl’etinqox First Nation members received their first dose of Moderna

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read