Guitar hero Brian's donation in honour of late mother is music to ears of NI Hospice
A guitar hero from Belfast is 'strumming' up interest for an auction of his 19 Fender Stratocasters signed by some of the biggest names in rock.
Brian Bennett's collection will go under the hammer at a special sale at Wilsons Auctions on November 30 to raise money for the Northern Ireland Hospice.
The 63-year-old donated his personal collection of guitars in honour of his late mother Nora, who was a dedicated volunteer at the charity.
A number of the guitars are autographed by stars such as Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, Motley Crue's Vince Neil, Guns 'n' Roses axeman Slash, Cream's Jack Bruce and Def Leppard's Belfast-born guitarist Vivian Campbell.
One guitar - a 2002 US Custom Shop-made seafoam green Strat - boasts signatures from Bad Company and Free drummer Simon Kirke, fellow Bad Company member Mick Ralphs, Jack Bruce and Wyman.
Six of the 19 Fender Stratocaster were made in Japan and one in Mexico, while the remainder were crafted in the United States.
Among the most desirable in the collection is a 1977 US-made maple-wood Strat signed by Jamie Moses, the respected session guitarist best-known for his work with Queen, Amy Winehouse, Bob Geldof and Mike and the Mechanics.
Generous donor Brian said: "I was able to amass the collection over a number of years thanks to musicians and music shops in Northern Ireland, and I would get signatures from Rock Camps I attended in London, at the Abbey Road studios, and at the House of Blues in Las Vegas.
"I've had the pleasure of jamming with some of the world's most famous musicians and I am glad I was able to get guitars signed by them.
"Hopefully this will benefit Northern Ireland Hospice.
"It was always my intention to collect as many Fender Stratocasters as possible to one day donate to the hospice in honour of my mother and her support for the organisation.
"The hospice has always been our family's charity.
"My mother always admired the values of Northern Ireland Hospice and its staff, and she volunteered throughout her retirement years.
"I guess she left me conditioned to make sure I did my bit for the Northern Ireland Hospice."
The guitar haul will be sold at auction in Wilsons Auctions Belfast on November 30.
John Ardill, Wilsons Auctions' Belfast branch manager, said: "We are delighted to be able to support the Northern Ireland Hospice by auctioning such a fantastic collection of guitars on November 30, with full proceeds going to the charity.
"Wilsons Auctions realises the importance of supporting worthy charities such as the Northern Ireland Hospice and the work it carries out throughout the local community.
"We would encourage people to register as soon as possible as we hope to raise a significant amount on the night for this worthwhile cause."
Northern Ireland Hospice chief Heather Weir said: "The goodwill shown to the Northern Ireland Hospice over the years has reached far and wide and has brought many quirky donations to our attention.
"This guitar collection is unique. Not only will it bring vital funds to support our care services, it will also raise awareness of the hospice's work.
"This donation has brought a great level of excitement and interest among staff.
"It is a great compliment to Nora Bennett's legacy and her support of the Northern Ireland Hospice, and a wonderful gesture by Brian."