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Biography

When Billy Bragg met up with cancer sufferer Maxine Edgington, the result was a song called We Laughed. Written as a gift for her daughter to remember her by, she now hopes releasing the track could raise money to help other sufferers in the county.

Having tackled the works of Woody Guthrie and written hundreds of his own songs, Billy Bragg has come across many musical influences in his career; but surely none will have had the same impact on him as the women of the Trimar Hospice in Weymouth, a centre which offers palliative care for cancer sufferers in Dorset.

The songwriting workshops that he attended for Rosetta Life introduced him to women like Maxine Edgington, Lisa Payne and Veronica Barfoot, the 'Friday Girls' who attended, and began working with Billy to create their own songs.

For Bragg it was an eye-opening and powerful meeting of minds:

"It was a great privilege actually to be able to work with them, to sit with them and talk with them and try and get their feelings and thoughts down on paper. I found it to be an inspiration."

Having been told she only had six months to live, Maxine Edgington was galvanised by the workshop, and put all her energies into writing this song.

She wanted to be able to leave her daughter Jessica something positive to remember her by, and a song seemed like the most personal way for her to do this.

Writing down her thoughts seemed to give her a different perspective of life following her diagnosis, as she explains:

"I actually wrote 30 pages of all my feelings, and my emotions and what I felt, and from that I felt I had a whole balance come into my life. Yes, there were many things I had regrets about but there were an enormous amount of things I wanted to revisit, do again because they were such good fun… I understood that death wasn't just about me."

It has also given her a chance to develop a closer relationship with her daughter, Jessica:

"Jess and I do a first everyday, whether it's a new bar of chocolate or that handbag that's been reduced. We build on positive memories."

Thanks to Rosetta Life and the Culture Online department, the girls and Billy Bragg were able to put a record out, something which Bragg is immensely proud of:

"It's not just sending people into the hospice with cameras and laptops to get a website together, when we said 'we want to make a record' they said 'OK, here's some money to make a record' he said.

"They've been so supportive, they've given Maxine, Veronica and Lisa their voices back, which is a great thing to do" Bragg added.

The single went in at Number 11 in the UK pop chart, surpassing such names as Texas and the Eurythmics.

Both Rosetta Life and the Trimar Hospice have benefitted from the sales of the CD, and the audio download which recently have begun to be count toward placings.

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