Ex-Fraser Island park ranger Dee handyside is raising money for cancer research through her newly-launched musical featuring the island.
Ex-Fraser Island park ranger Dee handyside is raising money for cancer research through her newly-launched musical featuring the island. Contributed

Fraser Is helping to cure cancer

AN ex-Fraser Island ranger has launched a musical featuring the island, which is now a national fundraising venture for cancer research.

In August 2007, Dee Handyside was employed with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service on the island and was thoroughly enjoying her ‘job of a lifetime'. However, a diagnosis of breast cancer meant a move back to the mainland and an end to her dream.

Not only had Dee's mother lost her life to the disease but within a month of Dee being diagnosed, her sister and cousin, both in England, had also received the same news. Dee went through surgery and aggressive treatments in Australia while on the other side of the world her sister and cousin endured the same.

A hobby songwriter and musician for many years, Dee was unable to work or gig with her band due to her illness. For Dee chemotherapy sessions became composing opportunities and gradually she transposed her feelings and experiences into songs to represent and appeal to people of all ages. Her band became guest artists, as well as a group of 15 friends and family who appear on the final track.

The result is an eclectic mix of Orchestral Rock, Pop, Jazz, Swing, Motown, Country and Electronic Dance entitled Genetic. Recorded, produced and mixed by Dee in her spare bedroom over a six-month period, the album formed the basis of a mini-musical and was scheduled for release in July 2008. However this was delayed due to further surgeries, leaving left Dee partially deaf and spending five months in hospital.

It was during this time her music partner Steve Hills came to the rescue. By visiting Dee in hospital, Steve encouraged her to write and collaborate with him on a further album of 12 songs entitled Now Hear This. The two albums combine to become a musical, which revolves around a music venue The Peachey Club, its managers, staff and customers. Cancer is only one part of the drama, as the characters leave business deals on the tables, relationships on the floor, and music on the stage.

The first track Morning Patrol Fraser Island is an instrumental setting the scene.

“It features starting up the diesel ute, a quick radio check and then driving along the beautiful sandy beach with whales, sea eagles, bumpy sand tracks and the rainforest birds,” Dee said. The track has also been used as production music for the State Government public information films ‘Camping on Fraser Island' and ‘Driving on sand in National Parks'.

Following on from positive feedback by listeners, 10 per cent of profits from Genetic album sales will go to The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF). Their official logo is proudly displayed on the album to help raise vital funds for cancer research, support and awareness.

“We are delighted to be involved in this courageous musical journey,”ACRF fundraising program co-ordinator Claire McArthur said. “The Genetic album is inspiration for those affected by cancer and we greatly appreciate Dee choosing to support cancer research through her music.”

Genetic by Dee Handyside and Now Hear This by ReturnNorth can be purchased on line at www.peacheyclub.com and via iTunes.

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