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Donations buoy shattered school                          October 16. 2003 9:25AM

Welcome gift: (left) The Mayor of St. George's presents an interim cheque for $11,000 to (third from left) Mrs. Mary Lodge, principal of St. George's Preparatory School. The money was raised in a recent benefit concert staged in the Town Square by professional entertainers from the cruise ships Norwegian Majesty and Norwegian Sea, and masterminded by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) entertainers Marcus Dagan (far right) and Chad Brennen. Helping to celebrate the moment are (from left) St.George's Town Crier E. Michael Jones, NCL entertainer Rudi Macaggi, St. George's Marketing Group representative Adriana Roberts, and St. George's Prep School students De'Zhane West and Andy Crumley. Missing from the photo is Mr. Brennen. Photo by Arthur Bean

By Nancy Acton

When Norwegian Cruise Line entertainers Marcus Dagan and Chad Brennen decided to organise a concert in St. George's to benefit the badly-damaged St. George's Preparatory School and the families of the Causeway victims, from a showbiz standpoint they had no doubt that it would be a success.
But just how great a financial success it has turned out to be has left them overwhelmed. To date, just over $19,000 has been raised, and funds are still coming in.
In a brief ceremony on Tuesday, Norwegian Majesty entertainer Rudi Macaggi joined Mr. Dagan, a singer-songwriter on the Norwegian Sea, and the Mayor of St. George's, Henry Hayward, in presenting an interim cheque for $11,000 to Mary Lodge, the principal of St. George's Preparatory School. In accordance with the collective wishes of the entertainers, 60 percent of all monies will benefit the school, with a further ten percent earmarked for each of the bereaved families, who will receive their donations in a separate presentation.
On behalf of the performers from both ships, Mr. Dagan accepted red roses and a 'Thank You' poster from the school, which were presented by De'Zhane West and Andy Crumley, two of the students who had sung in the concert finale.
In thanking all of the Bermudians who had assisted with the many shoreside arrangements, Mr. Dagan paid special tribute to the Bank of Butterfield for its sponsorship of the staging costs, and Mr. Jonathan Trott of Spanish Town International and his crew for their expertise and professionalism.
"We couldn't have done it without him," he said.
There was further good news for Mrs. Lodge this week in the form of a $20,000 donation from US computer giant Microsoft Corporation.
Apparently, during the concert, when it was announced that the school's computers had been destroyed and stolen in the aftermath of Hurricane Fabian, it struck a chord with a Microsoft employee in the audience.
The visitor was so impressed with the show that they immediately contacted their company which, in turn, lost no time in advising Mrs. Lodge that $20,000 was on its way to replace all 14 lost computers.
From this generous donation, Mrs. Lodge said her aided school will advance funds to three other Government schools, who collectively lost six of the machines in Hurricane Fabian.
A clearly delighted Mr. Dagan said feedback from passengers on the Norwegian Sea following the three-hour, non-stop programme of professional entertainment had been extremely positive, and many passengers had penned comments on the standard, voyage-end questionnaires. Some described the event as "the highlight of our vacation", while a couple from Pennsylvania wrote: "We were glad we were able to donate. Bermuda is a favourite destination."
Another commented: "It was good to see people giving back. There is too much take and not enough give in this world, and it was gratifying to see how much could be given."
"The passengers were really happy to be part of the fund-raising, and that was a nice surprise," the singer-songwriter said.
Word of the big fund-raiser has also been featured in the on-line newsletter, 'Cruise News', which reaches a worldwide audience, as well as the Norwegian Cruise Lines web site.
But the story doesn't end there. In the hope that both he and Mr. Brennen will be back on Norwegian Cruise Lines ships next year, Mr. Dagan said they would like to do a similar concert then.
"We all love Bermuda, and there is always a cause we can help."
The St. George's Preparatory School Disaster Relief Fund remains open at the Bank of Bermuda. The account number is 1001-028740.


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