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121 %
raised of £3,000 target
by 33 supporters
Katherine Bliss avatar
Katherine Bliss

Tom Bliss and the Burning Bridges

Catch Tom, Dave and Ross in the new year for Multiple Sclerosis Society because this brilliant charity has been a life-line

121 %
raised of £3,000 target
by 33 supporters

Multiple Sclerosis Society

We are the MS Society. We are strong enough to stop MS together.

Charity Registration No. 1139257


Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page - which is mainly for people who can't come to Tom's 3 gigs

Tom, Dave and Ross are playing their final gig at The New Headingley Club on Feb 11th (8.30) - with support from the great Joe Feather.

Reserve a seat here:

Their two other gigs at Inkwell Arts in Chapel Allerton on Jan 7th and The Black Swan in York on Jan 14th have, with the donations on this page and others, so far netted more than £2,200 for the MS Society. Please help us to reach our target of £3,000 which will go some way towards finding a cure for this horrible disease.

Songwriter Tom stepped back onto stage after five years in retirement, to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.

In his youth Tom - dubbed a master craftsman by Tykes News - wrote songs for pop impresario Pete Waterman. But by the noughties he'd rediscovered his first love, traditional folk, and was touring the UK- first with Slide, then with legendary banjo maestro Tom Napper and their 'supergroup' The Pipers Sons. Meanwhile, his nine CDs of 'astonishingly moving and inspirational (Tykes News)' story songs sold by the thousand.

Tom's concerts were hugely popular: 'Never have I heard tales told and sung with such humour and skill. A spellbinding couple of hours - where did the evening go?' said Bishop FM. The Folk Cub Forum quipped 'Tom's youtube videos and even his CDs don't do him justice, this man HAS to be seen live. The Ken Dodd of folk music perhaps!'

But by 2009, Tom had grown concerned about his carbon tyre-print. So, after one last tour to promote his final album, The Whisper (pronounced 'Brilliant' by Mojo), Tom announced his departure with a front page article in Living Tradition, saying that he'd probably never be back: He needed a clear head to study sustainability at Leeds Beckett - where he now teaches his original profession; landscape architecture and urban design.

Naturally though, he kept practising guitar, mandocello, whistle, duet, dulcimer and the rest, and even enjoyed the occasional session with Tom Napper and other musical mates. But for the last five years he's steadfastly turned down all bookings, saying it's all he can do to keep up with the climate scientists that he works alongside at the University of Leeds - not to mention finding time for Feed Leeds and the many other green projects he supports.

Then recently something happened to make him feel differently about performing: His daughter Ellie was diagnosed with MS, a neurological condition that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It can be devastatingly debilitating.

Other family members responded by fund-raising for the MS Society (her husband Tony raised thousands by walking all day and all night and all day), as much to face down this grim condition as to support the research which is now tantalisingly close to a breakthrough cure. And though naturally he helped, at first Tom couldn't think how to make a really meaningful contribution for himself.

'When Ellie was diagnosed I felt the world had ended. It's terrible to see the child you've nurtured inexplicably laid low by a currently incurable disease. Then it emerged that I know lots of sufferers, including my late Grandmother - who never even knew she had MS, because that's how they used to do things then. And most of these people are quietly pushing back and getting on brilliantly with their lives - as is Ellie. She's just fantastic, but life for her will never be the same, and staying cheerful can take some doing.

So I wanted to support her by raising money for the MS Society, who've provided a lifeline these past months. But I also wanted to raise the profile of a condition which now affects more than 100,000 people in the UK. I thought to myself - if only I was still playing, I could do some benefit gigs. And then I thought again: What's stopping me?'

So here he is, sounding better than ever thanks to long-time collaborator Dave Bowie on double bass and Ross Bennett, a wonderful guitarist and singer well known around York. They're playing just a handful of gigs under a name that gently mocks Tom's 'infamous' retirement:

Tom Bliss and the Burning Bridges
If you remember Tom (he does, he says - just!) or if you want to know if he's really as good as they all said - now's your chance.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.


  • Tom on the long-necked dulcimer at the Black Swan. Dave and Roos also think it's a funny instrument