AN ESSEX journalist will be trading his keyboard keys for piano keys next Sunday as he tours the capital for London’s first ever Musical Half Marathon.
Phil Harrison, 24, from Hadleigh, will be covering 13.5 miles of London streets on foot playing song requests from strangers on 20 pianos placed at iconic sites across London in exchange for donations to Cancer Research UK.
The unique fundraising event – due to start at Canary Wharf at 10am on Sunday, 10 July – takes advantage of an interactive artwork by British artist Luke Jerram which sees 20 pianos installed at public areas across London to encourage visitors to express themselves.
Alongside two other piano-playing friends, the team will navigate a route including pianos at Liverpool Street Station, the Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Old Billingsgate Market and even Hampstead Heath!
“I report on amazing charity fundraisers every week so was really keen to try something myself and arrange a unique event to raise money for such a great cause,” said the Enquire news reporter who has been playing piano since the age of 15.
“Seeing this year’s London Marathon really inspired me but as running around the block, let alone 26-miles, gets me out of breath I thought I’d try something a little different instead.”
Alongside Rock Choir teacher Lucy Hewes, 24, and charity engagement officer Laura Packer, 24, they will now spend their Sunday trekking the streets of London to reach all 20 pianos before sunset.
Phil continued: “It’s going to be tough as we’ve got a whole host of songs to get through and a long way to go but I’m hoping with some crowd participation we’ll make it and there can’t be many better finish lines than overlooking the Thames at sunset.”
Speaking about the wide range of music already requested he said: “We’ve had everything fro from Eva Cassidy’s ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ to Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget You’ so it’ll definitely be an interesting day.”
Sian Billingsley, volunteer fundraising assistant at Cancer Research UK, is through her weight behind the upcoming fundraising event saying: “Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to cancer research. We have discovered new ways of beating cancer that together have saved hundreds of thousands of lives across the world. One in three of us will get cancer at some point in our lives. Our groundbreaking work, funded almost entirely by the general public, will ensure that millions more people survive.
“The London Musical Marathon is a fantastic example of the inspiring and creative ways that our supporters chose to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. It’s a brilliant idea and we wish Phil and his group of enthusiastic pianists all the best of luck!”
Phil is already over half way to his £500 target and is hoping a final push this week and sponsorship on the day will help him reach the tally.
Artist Luke Jerram, who came up with the idea of pianos across London three years ago, said: “The Musical Half Marathon is a world first. The idea of raising money for charity by running between, and playing all the street pianos across London whilst entertaining the public at the same time is brilliant!
“It’s wonderful that ‘Play Me, I'm Yours’, presented as part of the City of London Festival, can be used in this way to raise money for such a worthy cause. I just wonder how many piano keys will be played that day?”
To find out more about all 20 of the pianos that will be at sites across London until Sunday, 17 July visit www.playmeimyours.co.uk.
To request songs and donate please visit www.justgiving.com/musicalmarathon.