When Roy Foster, aka Roy Stone, died in October last year, it was not only a devastating loss to those close to him, but also to the city he had entertained for over twenty years as a singer and frontman of the band Performance. The Roy Stone Foundation has been set up to honour his memory. We spoke to one of the organisers, Sally Jackson, to find out more…
Why did you start up the foundation?
It has been set up to help find some answers to the complexity that surrounds mental health. On a personal level, it was important to establish a legacy and positive way of remembering him. On a broader note, making an otherwise taboo subject mainstream is very important, and doing so by utilising the network of people who surrounded Roy has become a vital characteristic of the support.
Can you explain what the foundation does, and who benefits from the money raised?
We can look at the foundation as aiming to accomplish two different things. The mission statement is “To support the musical talents of young people and to help identify the early signs of depression and anxiety”. Firstly, regarding young musical talent, we have been able to provide a platform for young musicians who want to play their own material every Friday evening at the Southbank City Bar. Using the money donated, we are in the process of recording the musicians with Tony ‘Doggen’ Foster in his Mousehouse studio. Without giving too much exciting news away, we have a project that a team is currently working on which could take these young musicians’ careers to a whole other level.
Regarding depression and anxiety, which is a complex issue, we have been able to work with young people who themselves have a daily struggle with such an irrational condition, some of whom have performed their own original material on stage. The foundation was set up to accomplish something we know Roy would be proud of – to help these young guys do what they love most, performing and creating music.
In terms of projects we have in the pipeline, we have consulted with an array of people from different backgrounds; from mental health professionals, mental health academics, people who have experienced depression and anxiety first hand in family members, along with many people who have personally experienced the conditions themselves. We pride ourselves on developing a 360-degree perspective on the issue.
What is great for us, is that we have had other well-known Nottingham organisations approach us and want to get involved and we can’t wait to listen to the ideas that they have.
How important is it that mental health issues are discussed more openly and the stigma around them reduced?
We seem to live in a society where you're told to man up and stop moaning. Groups of men in pubs are arguing about whose life is harder, telling each other they should get a grip and sort it out. Never has there been a time where humans are under so much pressure in their personal and working life. Evolution hasn’t designed us to be able to deal with everything that comes with a life in the 21st century. People need to stop giving others advice on how to improve things, but sit with a friend, a lover or a stranger and listen, because you could lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on and maybe save a life. Discuss openly, reduce stigma and preserve happiness.
What type of fundraising have you done so far?
Last March, we had a gig at Rescue Rooms featuring previous members of Performance from the last couple of decades who came together to play. It was incredible, and a sell-out gig. We launched the foundation with an event at the City Ground in May. Sunset Festival was held in August at the Riverbank during the weekend of the Riverside Festival. Other venues and individuals have supported us by making generous donations. We can’t thank people enough for getting involved and supporting us.
And what events have you got coming up?
In terms of the Friday Night Project, we are in contact with a local venue to promote the musicians on a bigger stage in 2017. Next year, we’re looking to gain business interest to support us and have our second annual event where we will give a full account of the previous year. It’s our intention to aim high and make the foundation as big as Roy’s smile. Seriously, we aim to take on the stigma attached to mental health issues and will keep promoting our cause. We made a pledge to keep Roy’s memory alive and we intend to.
How can anyone reading this get involved and support the foundation?
We welcome people to join us and support a cause that is still not being taken seriously, so please get in touch. Social media is the main medium we are operating on regarding the distribution of information. Anyone can send a message to the Roy Stone Foundation Facebook page or, alternatively, there will always be a someone from the foundation every Friday at Southbank Bar from 5.30 - 8pm. We are eager to hear what anyone has to say and welcome any idea, no matter how big or small it is, we consider them all significant. We’ve had people running marathons, and putting on smaller gigs with the proceeds going to the foundation.
I’m not gonna bang on about what an angel Roy was, because he wasn’t. He was a bogger at times and a cheeky one. He was different, though, unique. Not only was he very kind and generous person, he always looked after the underdog. Basic example – if you were at a party and someone was standing on their own, Roy would be the one who would go over and introduce himself. He would want to know about them, show a real interest. Made you feel awesome. He was a hugger not a hand shaker, a very tactile person. A total clown who would have you in stitches. Inspiring, considerate and patient. A lover not a fighter. Hard to guess sometimes whether he was serious or not. A brilliant laugh always. A lovely man who I dearly miss and will never forget. I’m truly honoured to have had Roy in my life. He taught me so much about music and life. – Simon Boswell
We were a British rock and roll band at heart, all bringing our own influences. Roy was very influenced by the Mondays/Roses kinda thing, but also by The Beatles and Dylan. I always thought we were a bit like The Yardbirds, it was a pretty raw, energetic take on pop music, really. Roy’s vocal and frontman skills at the fore. – Kev Bales
As a person, Roy was extremely warm and a very touchy/huggy guy. Every time we met he would hug me. What was really poignant about Roy is that he would treat everyone equally, wouldn’t look down on you. Whether you were a working man or a prince, you were equal, and he was always interested in how you were getting on. It's a brilliant trait to have, to be nice and have time for people even when there is absolutely nothing on offer for you. Simon Boswell pointed out to me that if you were at a party or event, Roy wouldn't join the crowd who were talking, he would go and sit with the person who was on their own. The times I remember most about Performance were off stage. The times travelling to shows, in dressing rooms, Roy was just hilarious, very underrated at the wind-ups. One look from Roy could have you in hysterics. He never really appreciated how good his voice was. We did some excellent gigs. – Neil Lowe