Banding together to help family in need

SHEIDOW PARK

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Paul Mitchell, Jane Mitchell and Dan DeFazio are part of the Wild Matildas Bush Band performing at Sheidow Park Primary School next week to raise money for Maya Carslake, who has cerebral palsy. PICTURE: AAP/KERYN STEVENS

PAUL Mitchell is a medical sales rep by day, but by night – as a musician – he specialises in helping adults dance like nobody’s watching.

The Ironbank man and his wife Jane are among members of the Wild Matildas Bush Band who fell into performing Irish — Australian music during the ‘90s and never quite broke the habit.

Mr Mitchell says their popularity stems from a birthday party gig during 1994 which they managed to pull off after nobody else could be found for the job.

“We had all the wrong clothes and had no idea what we were doing,” he says of his mates, whom he met through a church youth group.

“It was pretty rough. Someone said, ‘Do you reckon you could do that again?’ and we realised we were trapped.

“We had to buy bits of equipment and then had to get business cards printed because we got sick of writing on an envelope.”

The group, which also includes high school teachers Jude Potter and Vivienne Bradtke and counsellor Dan DeFazio, now plays regular gigs at fundraisers, birthday parties, schools and church events. Their next is a bush dance at Sheidow Park Primary’s hall on June 23.

It’s in aid of Plympton Park girl Maya Carslake, who has diplegic cerebral palsy.

Her family is raising money to travel to the United States either later this year or early in 2019, so the six-year-old can have life-changing surgery to eradicate the spasticity affecting her movement.

Mr Mitchell says the group’s square dances are easy to follow for anyone who knows their left from their right, and can count to four.

“We are the audience and the dancers are actually kind of like the feature,” he says. “People initially get self-conscious, then they forget and have a lot of fun because they’re not self-conscious at all.”

Organiser Candice Gray – a family friend of the Carslakes

– hopes to raise more than $10,000 on the night, which also includes auctions, raffles and games.

Miss Gray says she wanted to organise something “fun and different” to raise money for Maya, labelling her resilience “amazing”.

“We thought it would be good old-fashioned fun.”

The event is at the school on Adams Rd on Saturday, June 23, from 6pm. Tickets cost $35 and include dinner. Visit ticketebo.com.au/ bushdanceformaya