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Release of emotion for Lisburn singer as new song pays tribute to virus victim grandad

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Gareth Ringland

Gareth Ringland

Gareth Ringland with his late grandfather Ronnie Falloon

Gareth Ringland with his late grandfather Ronnie Falloon

Gareth Ringland

Sometimes it's the little things in life that can make all the difference.

A simple exercise like picking up a pen and writing a few words, letting your thoughts flow out in music and song.

Lisburn man Gareth Ringland credits that simple task with saving his life as a teenager struggling through severe mental illness.

But along with two friends he has taken it a stage further by starting a record label, Rebel Records, aimed at providing a stage for others to literally sing their hearts out.

Having come out the other side of his teenage troubles, the 25-year-old electrician has turned back to music as he comes to terms with not being able to say a proper goodbye to his grandad, who was among the Covid-19 victims, having died in a Lisburn care home on April 7 only a few hours after becoming ill.

Ronnie Falloon's death hit Gareth hard, as it did the rest of his family, and left them with unanswered questions.

It was only after his death that a test for coronavirus came back as positive.

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Gareth Ringland with his late grandfather Ronnie Falloon

Gareth Ringland with his late grandfather Ronnie Falloon

Gareth Ringland with his late grandfather Ronnie Falloon

To cope with the pain of losing a close relative so suddenly with no process for grieving, no chance to say a proper goodbye, Gareth turned back to what he knows best. The result is a new song, available through the record label set up with a school friend from his days at Laurel Hill High School, James Totten, and workmate Ben Lloyd from Dromore in Co Down.

The track, Cold Summer, was released on Father's Day in tribute to his grandfather. It's helped bring comfort to his family, and his own wellbeing, through what has been a traumatic time.

The manner of Ronnie's death left the Ringland family with unresolved issues, with several residents at the home dying of the virus.

The family went public in the Belfast Telegraph over their concerns about how private health care had been handling the Covid-19 outbreak.

"I was off work, in the house on my own, staring at the walls," said Gareth.

"You feel trapped, useless with all the chaos going on around you.

"I had already been thinking about writing a song around Covid-19 to get my thoughts out there when I got the phone call from my mum Linda about my grandad.

"I'd already lost my nanny a year before and that hit me hard. This time there was grief but no closure. No proper funeral to speak of.

"It was all very strange to deal with, and though people tried to talk to me, I just couldn't put my thoughts into spoken words.

"Going through difficult times before, I knew the best way for me to deal with my thoughts was to sit down and write through the pain."

The words to Cold Summer, the beat inspired by US rapper Fabolous, who started an online challenge to adapt his track, followed and has now been released on the record label Gareth set up to inspire people with mental health issues to embrace the benefits music can bring.

"It was a big release and relief for me," he said.

"The plan would be to do this full-time if I can, but for now a simple thing like writing Cold Summer has been a real help in getting my thoughts and feelings out in the open."

Linda says Gareth's way with words has been a comfort for her family.

"By writing his feelings down in words throughout lockdown he had found it a real help," she said.

"The death of his grandad, and not being able to mourn him properly together as a family had a great impact on him.

"What he has done is beautiful for us, something we can share together. Releasing it on Father's Day, my first without my dad, was very emotional for us all, and a beautiful tribute."

Gareth's track is available under his 'Just G' name. Find out more on the Rebel Records Facebook page or the YouTube channel at Rebel Records NI.

Belfast Telegraph