Keep Walking Heather Waters
Words by Shan Routledge, pics by Rory Mole, Simone le Riche and Jess Beth Pearse
What happens when someone who has dedicated her time and energy to helping the community, now in turn, needs our help?
An inspiration and die-hard humanitarian, Heather Waters, is a British born singer and songwriter who has dedicated her life to helping others. Between her overseas tours and travels, Heather has been leading a somewhat nomadic existence with her 1975 VW Campervan in South Africa.
She has spent her career off the beaten track performing in villages, towns and cities. From busking on the side of the road to performing in stadiums, Heather Waters has one goal and that is to enrich the world around her. Along with her folk-rock collective, they have consistently chosen to focus their musical talents on making significant contributions to a variety of Community and Environmental Projects within the areas they have visited on their many nation-wide tours since 2008. These projects include gigs for Animal Welfare, Cancer Foundation, Addo Raptor & Reptile Centre, Red Cross UK, African Angels in Cintsa, Chair & Desk Project in the Tranksei, Crags View Wild Care Centre in Port Edward, and Imibala Childrens Foundation in Somerset West, to name but a few.
Her expressive guitar rhythms, honest lyrics and passionate energy draws audiences in and it’s this involvement and the collective awareness she embodies that makes the “Heather Waters Experience” what it is.
However, in March this year, the philanthropic musician began to experience an extreme burning sensation in her feet, which quickly turned into an unbearable pain. Within a few weeks her condition had deteriorated to such an extent that she was confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk.
After months of tests, doctors, referrals and re-referrals, Heather was finally diagnosed with acute Peripheral Neuropathy. This disease is a severe, degenerative and life-threatening condition resulting from damage to nerves in the peripheral nervous system, which directly effects the general functioning in ones legs and feet. Due to the complexity of this disease and the multiple causes, further expensive tests are required before a full diagnosis can be reached and correct treatment can begin.
“This has been an extremely humbling experience, and one that has reminded me once again, of the importance of strength of spirit and having a positive attitude. There are many people in the world who face extreme physical challenges and who do amazing things with their lives. These are the people I look to: heroes and champions!”
If they can find the cause in time, there is still a chance that some of the nerve damage can be reversed. However this is a costly endeavour and medications and treatment bills are piling up. And so, the ‘Heather Waters Keep Walking Benefit Concerts’ were born.
This devastating news has not stopped Heather and although it has resulted in a recent delay in the official release of her latest album she still plans on finishing and releasing it. The album will include a single she wrote 3 years ago, ironically entitled, ‘Keep Walking’. This undeniably moving track was written long before she could guess at what her future held and can now only serve as strength and inspiration to her in one of the most challenging times in her life.
To raise funds to help put this inspiring artist back on her feet - top Somerset West musicians recently banded together to create the first in an ongoing series of ‘Heather Waters Keep Walking Benefit Concerts’ which took place at the Nameless Pub in Somerset West in June.
It was a great success and the next ‘Heather Waters Keep Walking Benefit Concert’ will take place on Friday 30 August 2013 at Hudson’s on Vredenheim Wine Estate, near Spier.
Song-writer and guitarist Arno Carstens, of Springbok Nude Girls fame, will be head-lining the event with his band and other performances on the night include Solms-Delta Wine Estate’s delightfully jazzy Delta-Four band, sensational local saxophonists Gerald and Mario, and of course the lady herself, Heather Waters.
“It feels incredibly surreal (as) to imagine that this is not entirely curable, but the unbelievable support of my friends, family and even complete strangers, has been carrying both myself and my husband through this. We remain positive, that with the correct medication, a possible operation, and focus on lifestyle - I will be able to walk again soon. I am determined not to let this slow me down or prevent me from being who I am, from doing what I am meant to be doing. As always, I remain dedicated to the ideal of being the change I wish to see in the world.”
So come out and support this incredible cause and let’s help Heather Waters ‘Keep Walking’.