POET Laureate Simon Armitage has joined the local effort to raise funds for the Ukrainian people by agreeing to a request to set a new poem to music to be premiered at the “In Unison With Ukraine” concert in Ludlow.

Mr Armitage, who was appointed Poet Laureate by Her Majesty The Queen in 2019, wrote his poem “Resistance” in response to the war in Ukraine.

Now he has given permission for his new work to be set to music by local composer David Gaukroger, who will accompany opera singer Elizabeth Begley in its premier performance at the concert in St Laurence’s Church.

“We are grateful to the Poet Laureate for agreeing to allow us to set his poem “Resistance” to music and for it to be performed by Liz Begley and myself,” said David Gaukroger.

“We are hoping that this will have a commercial future, raising more money for the Ukraine cause.”

Mr Armitage has joined a cast of local, national and international talent contributing to the event for the Disaster Emergency Committee Ukrainian humanitarian appeal. The list includes world renowned Ukrainian bass-baritone Vassily Savenko, who will be joining St Laurence’s Church choir singing a Ukrainian folk song arranged by local composer and musician Steve Dunachie.

Mr Savenko, who has sung principal roles for major opera houses in his native Ukraine and also with the Bolshoi and Kirov Opera Theatres in Russia, commented said the war had resulted in great suffering.

“This brutal, senseless war has created a terrible humanitarian crisis and vast sums of money and support are needed to help the millions of refugees and for the rebuilding of the nation, so I’m particularly happy to participate in this concert ‘In unison with Ukraine’.”

The latest additions to the bill come on top of news of the involvement of such stars as Ludlow resident Alastair McGowan, the hugely popular TV impressionist, comic, actor and singer, his wife Charlotte Page, and event organiser Kim Begley, former principal tenor at the Royal Opera House and fellow tenor Tom Elwin, from Leominster.

Entry to the concert will be free but money will be raised for the charity by donations on the night.

In Unison With Ukraine takes place on Saturday, May 14, at 7.30pm.