SIXTEEN rock bands will take over a town football club for two days to celebrate the life of one of rock's greatest drummers.

Groups from across the UK will descend on Abingdon United in July for the weekend bonanza honouring the late Neil Peart – drummer with 1980s prog band Rush.

Bands such as Solstice, The Emerald Dawn, The Room, The Far Meadow, IT and This Winter Machine have all stepped up and offered to play at the charity event to raise money for Headcase Cancer Trust to combat Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the disease which took the life of Neil Peart.

The event, called Prog For Peart, will take place at The Northcourt on July 2 and 3.

Event organiser and Abingdon United marketing officer Mark Cunningham has been a Rush fan since the 1970s and said he was devastated when he heard Neil Peart died last year. After researching the disease GBM, Mr Cunningham decided he had to do something in the drummer’s memory.

He said: “I decided I can’t let this pass without doing something.

"I had already booked the Bravado lads, who are a terrific three-piece Rush tribute band, for that July so they were my first port of call and I asked them how they would feel about turning it into a charity event. I have got to say that they were immediately very supportive and said they would be delighted to.”

Mr Cunningham also discovered while researching GBM, that the UK charity Headcase Cancer Trust helps raise funds for research into its treatment and is supporting research being carried out by Nottingham Trent University.

He added: “I knew then I had found what I needed to do to celebrate Neil’s life.”

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As well as the 16 bands, there will also be a memorabilia charity auction at the event, stalls selling records, CDs, food, and a prog rock karaoke.

The prog rock fan is overjoyed at the bands’ willingness to help in his charity concert.

Mr Cunningham said: “I can honestly say I am genuinely humbled by the interest and determination of the bands to contribute, and from the public too, who seem to have held Neil in as much affection as I do myself. It is wonderful to see the whole prog community come together like this when you consider what is going on out there right now.

“In fact, I am already being asked if I will do the same next year. Really inspiring.”

He added: “I have got to say the bands and the guys in the industry have been wonderful. A bloke you do not know and have never heard of contacts you out of the blue and asked you to donate your time and music in the middle of a global pandemic? Well; they all listened to me and almost everyone I asked who had a gap in their diaries said yes.”

Due to the pandemic Mr Cunningham was initially concerned people would not want to play, but with help from TAD Studios near Bicester, the concert will also be live streamed.

He said: “GBM is a horrible disease and the research that Nottingham Trent University is carrying out has shown some incredibly positive indications.

“They are intending to take the next step and move on to human trials and we are hoping that the money we can raise through this will help them take that next step. It would be fabulous if part of Neil Peart’s extraordinary legacy was a contribution to ridding us of the disease that killed him.”

Prog For Peart will be held at Abingdon United Football Club on July 2 and 3. Tickets are on sale and there are also a limited number of camping tickets on offer Tickets can be bought via

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