Musician Peter Roughead is not often left lost for words – but even he was left gobsmacked when a mystery man handed him £1,000 in cash.
It happened when the Tweed River Jazz Band, of which Peter is the leader, were playing a gig at The Craster Arms in Beadnell recently.
“It was the interval and I was just sitting down having a beer when this guy came along and sat down beside me,” said Peter.
“He said he wanted to give us some money and I said that’s fine. There was a collection tin making its way around the room and I told him to go and put it in there.
“Then he told me he wanted to give £1,000. He hadn’t been drinking or anything but I told him to think about it because he might wake up in the morning and regret it.
“He went away and then came back 15 minutes later with £1,000 cash. He wouldn’t give me his name but said the British Heart Foundation was special to him.
“I couldn’t believe it. We get the odd £5 or £10 given to us but nothing like that.”
The band has now raised nearly £34,000 for the charity since it was formed in 1985.
Peter plays trumpet, tenor sax and vocals. The rest of the band, who all play for free, is made up of John Faragher on clarinet, Lucy Cowan on violin, Ruth Alder Bateman on piano and vocals, Brian Martin on banjo, Brian Smith on double bass and Les Turnbull on drums.
Peter said: “We play every Sunday afternoon in pubs around Northumberland. Raising close on £34,000 is not bad going!”
Peter, now 81, is still an enthusiastic and inspirational band leader, despite having suffered two heart attacks and other heart-related problems.
“I still practice every morning,” he revealed. “I thought I was finished when I had my heart attacks when I was 72 but the doctor toldme to carry on as long as I was relaxed. I’d love to still be doing it at 100!
Peter’s musical career started at the age of 10 when he played the drums in a pipe band. He started on the trumpet at 15 and started his own band, Modern Jazz Quartet, at 16.
“That was before rock and roll came in,” recalled Peter, who lives in Berwick.
His musical direction took a turn forever when he visited New Orleans, the home of jazz.
“It was like I had to learn all over again,” he explained. “I got to play with greats like Lewis Nelson, Sammy Rimington and Pug Brown and got to play in Palm Court, the New Orleans equivalent of Carnegie Hall.”
His love of the city, and role in taking its music to new audiences, was even recognised when he was made a Freeman of New Orleans in 1988.