A Night at Zac's Place

There were exactly 80 red rental chairs. We counted to double check. The remaining 45 chairs weren’t even all chairs — there was a well worn love seat, a few well loved arm chairs, some leather and chrome bar stools against the wall, and a baker’s dozen good old fashioned wooden hard backs, scattered around the edges and fighting the walkways for space.

It wasn’t a concert venue. It was a homeless shelter. An abandoned old church, used as home base by Sean Stillman for Zac’s Place, his safe haven of food, shelter, supplies and a listening ear for countless Swansea citizens sleeping rough on the street.

But on this night.. on this night it was transformed. There were lights, speakers, and candles flickered on the edge of a stage. One hundred and twenty-five people were crammed into every available seat (the red chairs went first). There were free cakes and biscuits, a merch table piled high with CDs, t-shirts and books, and an excited hum in the air. The house lights were dimmed, the spotlights went up, and Martyn and Bob Harris, OBE wove their way through the wooden chairs and walked onto the stage.

Martyn and Bob Harris, OBE on stage at Zac’s Place (Photo credit: Alastair Gray)

Martyn and Bob Harris, OBE on stage at Zac’s Place (Photo credit: Alastair Gray)

It was 1000 or so degrees in the room. Old church, no open windows, unseasonably warm UK night, 125 happy, chatty, constantly breathing people.. fairly straightforward cause and effect.

If you had asked that audience if it mattered, you would have seen a sea of heads shaking left to right. If you had asked if they could do this again, how many would have come, you would have seen 125 hands quickly raised.

It was magic.

There is no real way to describe the electricity that filled that beautiful night. It was a celebration of a culmination of so many efforts — LYT’s fundraising efforts over the last 6 months, Sean’s incredible work at Zac’s Place on a daily basis, and the volunteer led clean up efforts over the last few weeks, turning a space filled to the brim with donated clothing, canned goods and toiletries into a shining, vibrant performance space.


We wanted to commemorate the end of our fundraising period with them in a big way, to honour the big work being done at Zac’s Place by Sean.. it couldn’t have been more successful. This was in huge part due to the wonderful, wonderful Bob Harris, LYT’s amazing Patron. His completely enchanting interview with Martyn, and incredible database of personal stories shared with the crowd was brilliantly compelling and filled with wit and laughter, and we can’t thank him enough for his contribution to such an important night for LYT. Interspersing Bob’s fabulous dialogue, Martyn sang a beautiful selection of songs, both tender and charged with energy, reflecting both the emotional and celebratory occasion of the night. The remainder of the evening was filled with engaging Q&A with the audience from both Bob and Martyn, and culminated in Martyn presenting Sean with a cheque for £16,000 — the funding donated by all of our amazing supporters over the last 6 months.

MJ & Sean, presenting LYT funding (Photo credit Alastair Gray)

MJ & Sean, presenting LYT funding (Photo credit Alastair Gray)

The applause that rang out in that moment was not just for Martyn, Bob and Sean. The audience understood that this was a representation of each of them — each of you — that sit in Martyn’s audience night after night. That drop money into the bucket on the merch table, that sign up for LYT’s mailing list, and to become monthly donors. The entire evening was a representation of our vision for LYT that continues to be given permission to grow and grow, thanks to your beautiful generosity.

It was simply magic.

(Photo credit: Alastair Gray)

(Photo credit: Alastair Gray)

Thank you, to all that were a part, and to all that contributed in these last 6 months. Your donations make up the £16,000 ($30,000 USD), and they will help Sean in an indescribable way, funding a rehab of parts of that church that are starting to crumble, and aiding Sean not only continue to keep his doors open for a vulnerable part of the Swansea community, but keep them open longer.

We now restart our funding campaign in aid of our 4th project — aiding an albinism community in Uganda with Advantage Africa — and we do so invigorated and grateful.

We leave you with a final note of thanks directly from Sean -

"It is very difficult, in a few words, to convey the depth of appreciation and gratitude we have at Zac’s Place to all of you as MJ fans and supporters of Let Yourself Trust.

Thank you for taking the cause of Zac’s Place and our efforts among the marginalised, to your hearts. I wrote hoping at the outset of this six month period of support, that the benefit would be two way. I’d love to think this has been the case as you have heard some stories along the way.

We have never been in receipt of such a large single donation and its timing is hugely pivotal for us. We have been on the threshold of wanting to upgrade facilities, strategically plan to increase the level of support we can give, without compromising the ‘level ground’ nurturing environment. The support you have donated gives us significant financial stability to move forward with these plans with confidence. Thank you, each and every one.

The gig with Martyn and Bob Harris last Saturday was a truly magical evening of songs and stories and was a wonderful way of marking our connection together. Those that were there will be talking about the occasion for a long time to come I am sure. Bob’s championing of the under the radar musicians, Martyn’s advocacy for justice and our efforts among the poor gave more than enough common ground for a precious gathering of minds and hearts. My thanks to all those who made that happen, especially Justine, Bob, Martyn and all the crew at Zac’s who worked so hard.

May I also take this opportunity to encourage you to continue to support LYT and future partner projects. I have known Martyn many years, I will dare to think I understand something of his passion to make a difference in the world we live in. Whatever projects LYT put up for support, you can be sure they will grounded in grass roots action with people being loved, nurtured and supported. I can think of no other artist who conveys the intensity of his convictions in his music more than Martyn. Sometimes the songs are not enough though, that’s why LYT exists, please continue to support its efforts and thank you for sharing the journey with us.

Grace and peace.

Gobeithio y cewch eich annog, fel yr ydych wedi bod y fath annogaeth a bendith i ni.

Sean Stillman — Zac’s Place, Swansea, Wales.

Bob Harris, Sean Stillman & Martyn Joseph (Photo credit: Alastair Gray)

Bob Harris, Sean Stillman & Martyn Joseph (Photo credit: Alastair Gray)

Stefan JosephComment