Barnstaple musician thanks supporters

Joseph Bulmer

Saxophonist Mike Collins thanks all those who supported him following his explosion ordeal at a special event on Monday

A Barnstaple pub was packed to the rafters on Monday night as people turned out in their droves for a special celebration in honour of saxophonist Mike Collins and his safe recovery after the devastating Trinity Street gas explosion.

Mike’s Open Mic at the Wrey Arms in Sticklepath was an opportunity for the musician to thank all the supporters who helped raise more than �2,000 to buy him a new instrument after his were destroyed by the fire.

An emotional Mike told the crowd of musicians, friends, family and well wishers he was overwhelmed by the prayers and generosity people had shown.

The event featured numerous local musicians only too happy to play on the night and it was organised by local singer songwriter and friend Paul Gates. Performers on the night included the CB Band, Martin Greenly, Woodford Green, The Sugar Bullets and The Dead Piece.

Mike told the Gazette the event had been phenomenal and brought people together.

“But the one I want to thank first is the Lord Jesus Christ – there was a lot of prayer going out for me at a lot of local churches. In the hospital I had stopped breathing at one point and was put on a ventilator,” he said.

“I don’t know what else to say. I want to thank everybody for supporting me while I was in hospital and it has just put confidence back in mankind for me.”

Singer songwriter Jim Jones – who organised the fund raising open mic nights – also had a further surprise for Mike, presenting him with his new saxophone.

He said Graham Pell of Soundpad in Barnstaple had worked hard with Yamaha Music Europe and its representative Ian Frankland, with the company agreeing to supply the instrument at �300 less than retail price. The cash left over enabled them to buy Mike a few extra accessories, including a sax stand and microphone.

Jim told the crowd at the Wrey Arms he had been gobsmacked by the support people had shown: “Who could have thought we would be here now doing this – for me it is a bit of a miracle in itself and it’s a chance for Mike to say thank you for all that you did.”

A reminder of the explosion in November was brought to the stage in the shape of the twisted and charred remains of Mike’s old saxophones. The blast all but destroyed the house where he lived, severely injuring him and another man. Both were taken to the specialist burns unit in Swansea’s Moriston Hospital.

Mike has recently moved into a new flat and said his recovery has been slow but sure.

In a final surprise, Jim Jones revealed an anonymous donor had left a saxophone behind the bar at the Wrey Arms on Sunday, with a note that simply said: “Hope this might help in some way, it will need a bit of TLC. Barnstaple is not the same without you blasting out a tune or two. From a friend.”

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