Organ grinder Val drums up £300,000 after losing third husband

Val Sowerby has raised £300,000 over the last 30 years for Marie Curie cancer care by playing a vint

Val Sowerby has raised £300,000 over the last 30 years for Marie Curie cancer care by playing a vintage organ in different locations. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/Archant

After losing her third husband and struggling through lockdown, Val Sowerby would have been forgiven for hiding herself away from the world.

But the 72-year-old, from Worlingham, near Beccles, did the exact opposite - she hit the road and got fundraising once more.

Mrs Sowerby, has been raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care since 1992, and has now drummed up more than £300,000 with the help of her trusty organ.

val sowerby

Val Sowerby has raised £300,000 over the last 30 years for Marie Curie cancer care by playing a vintage organ in different locations. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/Archant

She tours areas around Waveney including Beccles and Lowestoft seafront, playing her vintage organ to delighted crowds.

Born in Yorkshire, she started the tradition there and then continued this when she met her third late husband in Beccles.

Val Sowerby and her partner John Fisher have been collecting and selling 1940's preoducs in aid of H

Val Sowerby and her husband John Fisher raising money for Help for Heroes in 2012 - Credit: Archant © 2012

Mrs Sowerby used to play the vintage organ with her husband John Fisher but he passed away five years ago from sepsis.

Her two previous husbands passed away from cancer which is what inspired her to raise money for Marie Curie cancer care.

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"When my husband passed away I lost my way for a long time and it had a huge impact on me," she said.

"When I met my husband, we were a team and did lots of fundraising efforts together including Help for Heroes fundraising in Beccles.

"But I stopped for a good few years after he died."

Val Sowerby and her partner John Fisher have been collecting and selling 1940's preoducs in aid of H

Val Sowerby and John Fisher at a Help for Heroes fundraiser in 2012. - Credit: Archant © 2012

But after the first lockdown, Mrs Sowerby felt inspired to head back out to Lowestoft and Southwold seafronts to play her vintage organ.

val sowerby

Val Sowerby has raised £300,000 over the last 30 years for Marie Curie cancer care by playing a vintage organ in different locations. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/Archant

She said: "I'm a very social person, so love being out and about in Beccles and at the beach delighting the crowds.

"People often come up to me who are on holiday and say that I have made their day.

"It makes me happy to know I've made a difference.

"John and I used to say everybody can help somebody and you can't take all the time."

Marie Curie fundraisers Val Sowerby and John Fisher, from Beccles.

Marie Curie fundraisers Val Sowerby and John Fisher. Credit: Archant - Credit: Archant

Since starting back up playing her street organ, Mrs Sowerby has already raised £3,000.

She raised just shy of £1,000 over Christmas and £463 recently outside Beccles Tesco on George Westwood Way.

Mrs Sowerby plans to continue the tradition.

"I will be out and about from March onwards this year for the summer.

"I'm usually out and about from 11 until 3, come and say hello if you see me."

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