Three Leeds friends set to sing around the clock to raise awareness of homelessness

Paul Lonsdale, Darren Rogers and Ash Inhaster.
Paul Lonsdale, Darren Rogers and Ash Inhaster.
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Three friends are set to sing around the clock in a ‘karaoke-thon’ to raise awareness of homelessness. They spoke to Neil Hudson

For most people, karaoke is something that occasionally punctuates a night out. If you’re lucky, you might just get away with singing one song (unless, of course, you’re actually good at it).

140116   Three friends who are to raise money for the homeless with a 24 hour 'Karaokethon' pictured in Bradford, l to r.. Paul Lonsdale, Darren Rogers and Ash Inhaster .

140116 Three friends who are to raise money for the homeless with a 24 hour 'Karaokethon' pictured in Bradford, l to r.. Paul Lonsdale, Darren Rogers and Ash Inhaster .

But three friends who met in Leeds are set to take to the microphones for a solid 24 hours in a bid to raise awareness of issues affecting homeless people.

They have dubbed their event the Sing for Shelter Karaokethon and have a dedicated facebook page, which they hope to use to stream the entire event live.

In fact, they’ve already smashed their original £500 fund-raising target and now hope to raise around £1,500 with the charity gig in February.

Indeed, they are inviting members of the public to support them during the sing-athon by attending the initial session at Mix Karaoke Bar, New Briggate, Leeds, which is also supporting the fundraiser.

We’re going to be singing for 24 hours non-stop, so, at some point, we’re resigned to the fact Barbie Girl will come up

Paul Lonsdale, 26, who will be taking part in the karaoke-thon on Feb 4

The three taking part are Darren Rogers, 31, Paul Lonsdale, 26 and Ashley Inhester, 29.

See their Go Fund Me page here

They will begin singing at Mix at 5pm on Saturday February 4 and continue until 2am at which point there will be what Darren dubs “a bit of ‘car-eoke’ as we travel from one venue to another”, after which they will resume microphone duties at the New Foundry Recording Studios, Knottingley, until 5pm.

Darren, who managed a karaoke bar in Leeds for three years but now works in finance, said he was looking forward to the challenge.

140116   Three friends who are to raise money for the homeless with a 24 hour 'Karaokethon' pictured in Bradford, l to r.. Paul Lonsdale, Darren Rogers and Ash Inhaster .

140116 Three friends who are to raise money for the homeless with a 24 hour 'Karaokethon' pictured in Bradford, l to r.. Paul Lonsdale, Darren Rogers and Ash Inhaster .

“All three of us were keen on doing something bigger to help homeless people and I think it came from that. Paul came up with the idea. It is a long time to sing but it’s something we all enjoy doing. In fact, it’s how we all met. Paul and Ash used to come into the club I managed and we just got talking and became friends from there.

“I’ve always had a theatrical background. I grew up in Staffordshire. My first real stage experience was playing Oliver in Oliver Twist at school when I was 11.”

Darren said they planned to ‘live stream’ the entire challenge on facebook, switching between wifi and mobile phones during the trip to the studio.

“It’s going to be fun I hope, we want other people to come and support us and Mix have kindly given us use of the main stage on the night.

“There will be a bit in the middle where we might lose the link maybe as we get into the car but we will still be singing all the way to the studio.”

He added: “We have already come to the realisation that we will be subjecting ourselves to things like Barbie Girl. I do not doubt we will also be singing Let It Go at some point.”

Paul, who also works in finance and is no stranger to the stage, has appeared in numerous drama productions at Leeds City Varieties and other venues and will be performing in Jekyll and Hyde at Leeds Carriageworks in May.

He explained the thinking behind the idea: “We all met through karaoke and with us all being so passionate about it, we thought we would do a 24-hour session. We’re also all very keen in doing something about homelessness. It’s just something we all feel passionate about. I’ve seen Darren many-a-time stop and talk to a homeless person and after that he will go and buy them some food and drink and make sure they’re ok. I think it’s just this idea that there’s all these people just walking past every day and when the people in charge of the country aren’t doing enough, then what can we do?

“Well, we can do our bit and this is us doing that - by hopefully drawing attention to the issues and raising some money in the process. I appreciate it won’t be a drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of things but it will help a little bit.

“Originally, the idea was to get a booth and for the three of us to slog it out but when we managed to get the main stage, we changed it, so we’re really wanting other people to come along and get involved and support us in what we’re doing and I think the bar is going to have some drinks offers on too.”

Paul is a natural on stage, having acted in numerous am-dram productions, not least of which has been Les Mis.

“I have been doing stage shows at Theatre Royal, Wakefield and the old Civic Royal in Doncaster. Although it’s still considered amateur, everyone is invested in it, there’s an air of professionalism about it. We’ve all always been interested in performance. I was at university with Ash and we heard about the karaoke bar and that’s how we met Darren.

“The first show I did when I was 15 I did Les Mis. I’ve done it three times now. When we did it at The City Varieties, I played Javert. The last time when I was 20, it was in Rotherham, I played Jean Val Jean.

“People say why don’t you go on X-Factor but none of us think of it like that. It stops being fun if you do it for a living. So long as it can stay fun and social, I am good with it.

Ash, who sings in the band Caught Off Guard, is equally up for the challenge.

“I wouldn’t say I’m daunted by it. I’m looking forward to it and I think we all three of us believe in the cause. If you’ve got the skills to do it, why not. I’ve been in a band, Caught Off Guard, for six of seven years, we travel around the country, I love it.”

Ash, who works in creative arts and media at Pontefract New College, offering B-tech support for students, added: “It’s always been something I’ve been interested in.

“Homelessness is always one of those things that gets overlooked but it’s something none of us three can ignore.

“We cannot change the world but if the big people aren’t doing their job, then why not let the little guys have a go?


Darren’s fave song: Bon Jovi, Dead or Alive. The one he hates: Glee’s Don’t Stop Believing

Paul’s Fave song: Queen’s Somebody to Love. The One he hates: Maria Carey’s All I Want For Christmas.

Ash’s fave song: Rock version of Don’t Stop Believing. The one he hates: Anything by Justin Bieber

The Sing For Shelter Karaokethon will take place on Saturday Feb 4 at Mix Karaoke Bar and New Foundry Studios, Knottingley
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