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

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

Williams Lake’s Daine Dubois (left) and 150 Mile House’s Isaac Bedford have been named as recipients of the 2020 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport. (Tribune file photos)
Two Cariboo athletes honoured with Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport

“You have honoured the province, your nations, and your families.”

A worker at Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake. (Taseko Mines Ltd. photo)
B.C. Mining Month celebrates innovation

Mining has long been important to the Williams Lake economy

Taskeo Mines Ltd.’s Gibraltar Mine has released its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report titled Sustainability: Our Low Carbon Future. (Photo submitted)
Gibraltar Mine gets top marks for limiting greenhouse gas emissions

Taseko Mines Limited has published its annual report on its sustainability performance for 2020

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

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

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read