Steve Cardownie: Show for Alfie and kids with cancer sells out

Firm Friends: Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, right, have known each other since university� (Picture: Neil Hanna)
Firm Friends: Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, right, have known each other since university� (Picture: Neil Hanna)
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An emotional charity show, which raised thousands of pounds for The Brain Tumour Charity, heard of the bravery and positive attitude of Alfie, the six-year-old son of Underbelly’s Ed Bartlam, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of just four.

I spoke to Charlie Wood of Underbelly yesterday who was delighted by the response of Fringe-goers at the cancer fundraising event held in the McEwan Hall on Monday night.

It was held to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity and also to raise awareness of the issue generally. Charlie’s business partner Ed Bartlam addressed the capacity audience of 900 at the end of the show where he spoke about his and his wee boy Alfie’s experience over the last two years. Alfie has been going through intensive treatment and Ed told the emotionally charged audience of the six-year-old’s bravery and positive attitude.

Nearly £15,000 was raised at the box office which Underbelly matched, bringing the total on the night to £30,000 with an additional £600 having been collected in buckets outside, all of which will be donated to the charity.

Charlie was delighted by the public’s response and paid tribute to Ed and Alfie for the manner in which they have tackled this traumatic situation.

He is godfather to Alfie’s older sister Violet, so has witnessed first hand the impact that this has had on the family. He told me that a number of medical students were in the audience and he felt that everybody was there because they wanted to support the charity’s work and not just because of the show’s line-up.

READ MORE: Head to charity gig to help kids like Alfie

Charlie and Ed run several venues in Edinburgh as part of the Fringe Festival and many of the shows that they produce achieve critical acclaim.

They have been friends from their university days and first started tasting success when they secured the use of an unused part of the Central Library on George IV Bridge. Having established themselves as major players on the festival scene, they then decided to expand their operations into the festive season which also proved to be a winner. To maintain that level of success is a huge undertaking, but they are determined to press on now that they are an established part of the Edinburgh scene.

Two years ago, it came as an unwelcome shock to Ed to discover that his son was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of just four and, after finding out that brain tumours are the biggest cause of cancer deaths of children, Ed embarked upon a personal crusade to find a cure for Alfie and also to raise awareness of the symptoms.

He has also been working to highlight the lack of adequate funding to tackle this insidious disease.

So far his efforts have been rewarded with renewed hope for Alfie’s recovery and the boost given to The Brain Tumour Charity. His and Charlie’s endeavours are recognised and rightly so, but they have resolved to continue the battle for Alfie and children like him.

My conflict with prostrate cancer is nothing compared to what children with brain tumours go through. Alfie, all the best son and hope to see you hale and hearty in Edinburgh soon!

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