Hartlepool open mic night to raise funds for Orlando shooting victims

Mark Harrington. Photograph by FRANK REID
Mark Harrington. Photograph by FRANK REID
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A performing arts teacher is holding a charity open mic night to raise funds for the victims of the Orlando shootings.

Mark Harrington, 28, from Belle Vue in Hartlepool, organised the event after hearing of the attack on a gay nightclub in America, and felt that he had to help.

Mark, who runs new performing arts company MPR Productions, said as member of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community community himself, the incident was one that was close to home for him and his partner of eight years, teacher Peter Rowlands, 31.

He said: “It is awful. I am part of the gay community in Hartlepool and live with my partner, so when I heard what happened it really affected me and I felt really angry by it.
“It could have happened to anybody and to think that being associated with such groups like the LGBT community makes you a target, it is scary.
“I was reading one article about the last texts one of the victims sent to his mum and felt so angry thinking abut the poor lads mother, so I wanted to try and help.”

On Sunday forty-nine people were killed when a gunman entered a nightclub and started shooting at those inside in the worst mass shooting in US history.

The Rainbow Flag was flown at half-mast at the Hartlepool Civic Centre on Tuesday as a mark of respect.

Mark, whose school is above Stephanie’s Cafe-Bar-Shoppe on Church Street, also runs the No Hate Hub with owner Stephanie Aird, the owner of the business downstairs, which aims to provide a safe relaxing environment for members of the LBGT community and other groups or individuals.

Stephanie will host the night organised by Mark on June 25, which will also raise funds for the No Hate Hub to have things like CCTV.

The funds for Orlando will go directly to charity Equality in Florida via their Go Fund Me Page which will go towards things like medical bills and be spilt between victims.

Mark added: “The event will run at Stephanie’s Cafe-Bar-Shoppe on Church Street from 7pm to 11pm and will feature performance from local dance schools KR Dance School and Kate Sirs School of Music.

“There will also be performances from local artists and refreshments will be available until 4am from Reflections next door.
“Members of the public are also I visited to get up and join in.

“Entry is free but there will be a collection buckets for donations.
“I am just hoping to raise as much as possible.”

To donate visit: www.gofundme.com/2942A444

For for more information contact Mark Harrington on: 07960188773.

The No Hate Hub is located at Stephanie’s Cafe-Bar-Shoppe and is open Thursday to Sunday from 7pm to 1am.