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Declan, Corey and a Dalek

 

19 February 2016

 

Saturday 13 February was a pretty damn good day for Declan as he went to his first gig, Slipknot at the Leeds Arena. 

 

He met Corey Taylor. His mum baked Corey a talking cake. And he ended up on stage with Corey. 

 

Declan is 17 and has learning difficulties, so when we received an application for him to see Slipknot, it was easy for us to say yes, to give something to put a smile on his face. The only thing is he didn't know how big the smile was going to get; and nor did we.

 

 

 

 

 

Music for Declan, like so many of us, is a place to find peace, escape, hope, freedom. It's also a place where Declan can connect with his dad, Kev. Our intention was for Kev to be there as well, to share Declan's first gig but sadly he wasn't able to get the time off his work, maybe he'll be there for Dec's second. So stepping off the train in Leeds at lunchtime was Declan, mum and cake maker extraordinaire, Bev. And a Dalek. We settled them into their hotel and, given a choice, what 17-year-old wouldn't pick Hotel Chocolat for a late lunch? A restaurant based on chocolate has a lot of upside. 

 

Back to the hotel to rest up for the big night and get ready for the show. And pick up a Dalek. We discovered a while back that Bev is a cake maker, a very good cake maker. And Corey loves Dr Who. So there's only one sensible thing to do and that's ask Bev if she can make a Dalek. As you can see from the photo, the challenge was, well, we have to say it really... a piece of cake. 

Music for Declan, like so many of us, is a place to find peace, escape, hope, freedom. It's also a place where Declan can connect with his dad, Kev. Our intention was for Kev to be there as well, to share Declan's first gig but sadly he wasn't able to get the time off his work, maybe he'll be there for Dec's second. So stepping off the train in Leeds at lunchtime was Declan, mum and cake maker extraordinaire, Bev. And a Dalek. We settled them into their hotel and, given a choice, what 17-year-old wouldn't pick Hotel Chocolat for a late lunch? A restaurant based on chocolate has a lot of upside. 

 

Back to the hotel to rest up for the big night and get ready for the show. And pick up a Dalek. We discovered a while back that Bev is a cake maker, a very good cake maker. And Corey loves Dr Who. So there's only one sensible thing to do and that's ask Bev if she can make a Dalek. As you can see from the photo, the challenge was, well, we have to say it really... a piece of cake. 

 

Declan added the technical advice and the voice to the Dalek and put himself on Dalek security detail. The cake never left his hands all the way to the arena, while we waited to meet Stephanie who would be taking care of Declan at the arena, into the arena, backstage and finally let go deeming it delivered and safe once it was on the table awaiting Corey's arrival. 

 

Corey, in Declan's own words, made him feel like he'd known him all his life. He gave Dec a swag bag full of Slipknot goodies, picks and drumsticks, plenty of time and attention, making him feel so very, very special and prized. Many subjects were covered - a band called Slipknot, Mary Berry from The Great British Bake Off, Dr Who and most preciously, Corey and Stephanie offered Declan support and suggestions on coping with some of his struggles. 

 

Then it was time to meet Dion from Slipknot's security who escorted us to our seats and made sure to show us exactly where to go for the encore as Declan would be watching the end of the show from sidestage. Then we caught Suicidal Tendencies before the main event, the reason we were here - Slipknot!

 

Watching Declan, a young man who finds crowds of people tricky, be in this totally unfamiliar environment and slowly warm to the experience, feel more comfortable as the show went along, sing along, smile, then smile more broadly - this was very special for us all. The smile got bigger still as we went down to watch sidestage, Slipknot right there, so close you could almost touch the stage, Corey seeing Declan and waving as he grabs a drink of water.  

 

Then Stephanie beckons Declan to come up, and as he does, Corey walks towards him, turns him around and walks with him to the front of the stage. Roars, cheers from 10,000 and more people. Declan with a smile as wide as an ocean. Declan a star. 

 

****

 

We've spoken to Declan and Bev since the show and Declan is still floating. Immediately after the show, after Corey had stopped by to say farewell, Declan said he felt safe, felt like he belonged, a part of the Slipknot family. 

 

Mum is 'still tripping'. For the first time in a long while she saw her son at peace, saw him truly happy, saw how being treated as special has left him feeling just that, special, and valued. She told us how Declan and dad chatted on the phone about the show, which songs were played, meeting Corey. She spoke of their joy, father and son connecting, sharing. 

 

We can't thank Corey Taylor enough. A rock star but more importantly a wonderfully generous hearted human. 

 

Stephanie, thank you for everything. Your kind words will echo long for Declan.

 

Michelle from Cosa Nostra PR, you rock and we know it, thank you. 

 

Slipknot, the show, the music, the family. Thank you.