StudentNews_SunflowerSanctuary

Business Management student releases song in touching tribute to friend

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 16:19:00 BST
Douglas became friends with Michaela and Rony (pictured) through street gatherings and fundraisers
Douglas became friends with Michaela and Rony (pictured) through street gatherings and fundraisers

A GCU student is raising money to honour a friend who lost his battle to cancer, while simultaneously helping children on the other side of the world.

Business Management student Douglas Sleigh has recorded a song to carry on the legacy of Rony Bridges. Funds raised from downloads will go towards supporting a sunflower sanctuary in Uganda – which acts as a community hub for children and families with Autism.

The charity behind the initiative is Starchild, which was set up by Rony’s wife Michaela in memory of her adopted brother from Uganda, who sadly passed away at the age of just 27.

Douglas explained how he became close to Rony and Michaela and why he wanted to support the charity.

He said: “I live on a really sociable street and we hold various gatherings throughout the year – that was how I first got to know them both.

Rony was actually a successful actor and featured in a number of films, including Star Wars. He’s just one of those people whose life was filled with incredible stories.”

Douglas added: “Up until last summer my involvement with the charity was mainly just through attending fundraising events.

When Rony passed away it hit me hard because we had become really good friends. My way of dealing with that was to write a song and it’s allowed me the opportunity to help make a positive difference.”

After originally giving the song to Michaela as a Christmas present, they then decided that it would be released to help support the sunflower sanctuary – which was set up in memory of Rony.

Douglas said: “People with Autism are treated terribly in Uganda and Rony and Michaela had wanted to build this to provide a safe space for those affected – it was the next big step for them as a charity.

The idea behind the sunflower was that they follow the light as they grow and it’s obviously a really nice symbol of hope.”

The song has recently been released and is now available for download – with one final touching tribute from Douglas to Rony.

Douglas explained: “He was always up for a party and always the last one to leave. The glass of wine he drank was £3.60, so we decided to make this the cost of the song.”

He added: “I remember someone saying that we should move on from his death but I didn’t feel that was right.

This is a way of moving forward but more importantly, it’s about paying tribute to him as a person and helping his legacy continue through Starchild.”

You can watch the promotional video Douglas posted on Facebook here and you can download the song and donate by following this link

By Ross Clark
Got an SHLS or GSBS story? Email me at Ross.Clark@gcu.ac.uk or connect with me on Twitter