LETTER: Former Fen man’s song aims to boost spirits during Covid-19 pandemic

Stuart Fretwell who lives on Portand has been writing song-lyrics for Weymouth's Ed Hintze for about

Stuart Fretwell who lives on Portand has been writing song-lyrics for Weymouth's Ed Hintze for about ten years.

Lockdown song with a timely message


I was born in Whittlesey but educated at March Grammar School/Neale Wade Academy in March.

We moved down to my wife’s hometown of Weymouth in 1999 when our daughter was four and found a new home on the nearby Isle of Portland.

Weymouth musician, Ed Hintze, and I first met when he delivered an electric piano I’d bought for my daughter to learn on.

We discovered that we had a shared liking for Elton John and I told Ed how I’d sent a song lyric to Sir Elton at Caesar’s Place Las Vegas, where he had a residency, and how I’d been told off by his management for being so cheeky.

rock snake

rock snake - Credit: Archant

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Sir Elton didn’t record it but I did more work on it and Ed recorded a version which was our first collaboration and which was uploaded to YouTube on Dec 24 2008.

We’ve lost track of how many songs we’ve collaborated on together, but it’s certainly enough for a longish album. Ed placed fourth in the BBC‘s ‘The One & Only’, a few years back, when he showcased his Elton John tribute performance.

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Apart from a couple of occasions when were actually in the same room, Ed and I always collaborate via the internet, so the ‘lockdown’ is nothing new for us when it comes to songwriting.

As always, I email my lyric to Ed and, if it sparks something off for him, he records a ‘demo’ and we take it from there.

Jo Tidman took this photo of a recent two-hour storm from her back garden in Tilney St Lawrencey. "T

Jo Tidman took this photo of a recent two-hour storm from her back garden in Tilney St Lawrencey. "This strike was so bright it flared out at the top of the photo, causing the line across it," she said. "It was very loud too." Picture: JO TIDMAN - Credit: Archant

The inspiration for our ‘lockdown’ song, ‘Be A Friend’, came to me about a week into the restrictions, when I was thinking that I really should phone the widow of my best friend, who had sadly died in December 2018.

I tend to phone her about once a month but I’m always a little concerned that it might not be a convenient time for her when I do. Anyway I did phone, she was pleased to hear from me and we had a few laughs and reminisced.

It occurred to me, afterwards, that perhaps I could write a lyric to encourage others to phone their long-lost friends and that Ed might set it to music.

Because of my age, my gender and pre-existing health conditions I’m at a higher risk of complications from Covid-19 than some.

I wanted to do something to help but my options are limited. Ed has come up with a cheery, optimistic tune to accompany my lyric and I can imagine folks being pleased to hear it and that they might, hopefully, feel encouraged by it.

As I try to point out in my lyric, people have gone through a lot worse, and gotten through it ok. And it’s well-known fact that, when faced with death in the family or in the country at large, there is an almost irresistible urge to create new life, which hints at the indomitable strength of the human spirit.

The song is not ‘monetised’. We just wanted to DO something when we were both in lockdown and missing our own friends and family.

P.S. I’m 67 but Ed is a mere 47. It’s great that we can produce something together, despite there being 20 yrs difference in our ages. It’s one of the more positive aspects of the internet.

For any further information, don’t hesitate to contact me on 01305 822831.


Incinerator fight continues

An open letter to MP Steve Barclay, from the founder of the WisWIN Campaign Team, fighting to halt a massive energy from waste incinerator being built in Wisbech.

Hi Steve,

Given the good news, reported in our local papers this week of Wisbch Rail: “Hopes of reopening Wisbech Rail have been revived this week after an independent study concluded that the project would be financially viable... a full business case has concluded that restoring a heavy rail link between Wisbech and Cambridge would be practicable, provide value for money and be “transformative” for the town’s economic potential.

For your background information I ran a campaign in the 90’s and raised over £10 million from the community and Europe to bring back “FenRail” with a station built in Weasenham Lane, with match funding from the Millenium Commission.

I know you have been particularly supportive of the rail project.

As you’re aware, part of MVV’s proposal was to provide access along New Bridge Lane (it really is a lane opposite Tesco with dykes both sides).

I’ve been advised: MVV can’t simply build the incinerator across the tracks on land they don’t own. The trackbed is owned by Network Rail and is still what’s termed as an out of use railway.

It would require the Secretary of State to issue a formal “Closure Notice” before the trackbed could be sold - something that would simply not happen while reopening is on the cards.

Can you arrange for this to be investigated please and advise as I believe this could simply blow the proposal out of the water.

Your advice appreciated. Kind regards, Virginia, founder of the WisWIN Campaign Team. Visit www.wiswin.org.uk


Village rock snake

During lockdown, many of the children in our small village started painting and hiding rocks, and sharing their finds on our village Facebook page.

This led us to start our very own ‘Eastrea Village Covid 19 Snake’ - the snake has been in place near the Eastrea memorial for just two weeks.

It is growing fast with over 150 rocks already placed by villagers and children in the local area.

As a small village, it has given everyone something fun to do during lockdown and brought a smile to many faces.


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