MARCHING ON: Paul Barrett leads the Samba Blisstas drum band in the 2015 Banana Festival parade.
MARCHING ON: Paul Barrett leads the Samba Blisstas drum band in the 2015 Banana Festival parade. Scott Powick (file)

Crowd-funding campaign to help frontman in red

PAUL Barrett has been buzzing with energy his whole life.

The Cabarita local plays carnival-type music and has led the samba street percussion troupe he formed, Samba Blisstas, in festivals across the Tweed-Byron region for more than 10 years.

The man in red with the big grin and even bigger passion for life was recently laid low by a heart attack and has now spent a month in hospital.

He has an enlarged heart and doctors have been working hard to find the correct cocktail of drugs to help get him back on his feet.

Unable to play music and hold his percussion classes has meant Paul has been without income. So his troupe have rallied around their leader and launched a crowd-funding campaign to help him until he finds his feet and his rhythm once more.

They know they need him as much as he needs them and his poor health is why the troupe will not lead the Bangalow Christmas Eve Carnival in 2016, as they have done for years.

One of its members, Janel Morrissey, who started the crowd-funding campaign, said it just wouldn't feel right without Paul.

"He is our maestro," she said. "He is the director; he gives us signals of what we should play."

All the attention has touched Paul. He admitted there had been times his eyes had recently needed drying because of the well-wishes and the people digging into their pockets so he might have a little in his.

"I know there's some of the Samba that have started the campaign and they've been in contact with me to say they were doing it," he said.

"I've been very humbled by it. But I've only just, in the last couple of days, began to feel half normal again."

The campaign began with a goal of reaching at least $5000. It's about $1000 short of the mark, but Ms Morrissey hopes more people donate once they learn of Paul's condition.

How to help:   Visit www.gofundme.com/3134voo/    Or visit the Go Fund Me website and search for Paul Barrett Big Hearted Fundraiser.  


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