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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Sunday 08 April 2018

Slow Decay: Songwriter & Filmmaker Team Up For Video Based On True Organ Donor Story

Singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid, who recently played The Greys, in Brighton, has teamed up with award-winning filmmaker Brett Harvey for a music video/short film based on the poignant true story of Bill Conner, a father who lost his daughter and cycled 1,400 miles to hear her heart beating again in the body of its recipient. 

Underpinned by Sarah's song Slow Decay, from her current album, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, the video was released with Conner's blessings, ahead of Sarah's April-May UK and Ireland tour dates. 

"I'm so, so glad that Brett came up with this beautiful concept for "Slow Decay"," says Sarah. 

"It's something I feel very strongly about, and I hope it'll inspire anyone who's not already registered as an organ donor to sign up."

In May 2017, five months after Conner's daughter Abbey died at the age of twenty, he decided to honour her short life by cycling from his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to visit Broward Health Medical Center, the hospital that had recovered Abbey's organs for donation. 1,400 miles into Conner's trip, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he met with 21-year-old Loumonth Jack Jr., who'd been given 10 days to live before he was saved by Abbey"s heart.

After sharing a minute-long hug, Jack pulled out a stethoscope so that Conner could hear his daughter's heartbeat for the first time since she died. 

The family made a recording of Jack's heart for Conner to listen to as he continued his journey to spread awareness about the importance of organ donation, promoting the efforts of www.donatelife.net. The Slow Decay video seeks to further his efforts. 


"I was struck by the simple humanity of the act," says Harvey, "and the notion that we live on through others after we pass away. 

"I had wanted to tell a version of this story for a while, and as soon as I heard Sarah's beautiful song I knew it was the right fit."

"The body fails / These bones won't last forever / So I ask myself what are the things we leave behind," ruminates Sarah in the lyrics of Slow Decay

The question is answered, at least in part, elsewhere on the album: the bluesy, upbeat Break Me Down includes the line "If my organs are of use, I hope they find a happy home."

In his beautifully rendered film, Harvey takes up that theme subtly but effectively, as a mother (played by Mary Woodvine, whose credits include Eastenders, Doc Martin, Casualty and Poldark) undertakes a cycle journey intercut with flashbacks of her daughter's short life. 

Harvey, McQuaid and Woodvine are all based in Cornwall, as are the other actors who appear in the film: Enys Val Baker (Baby Lea), Ethel Jean Harvey (Young Lea), Chloe Endean (Teenage Lea) and Daniel Richards (Man).
 
"I've been living here for over ten years now," says Sarah, "and it's been a real joy and privilege to be able to make my home in a place that's so beautiful and that's also such a hotbed of creativity. 

"I can honestly say that I wouldn't have the music career I have now if it hadn't been for the people I've met and worked with since moving to Cornwall."

To the 'Slow Decay' video CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley




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