Band reunites to record Christmas song for cancer research

Musician Ian McConnell says both his wives died from the disease

Three musicians, including a man who has lost two wives to cancer, have put their band back together after more than 40 years to record a charity song for cancer research.

The lotto-winning former sales executive, a best-selling author and a HR consultant lost contact in the 1970s when they stopped performing and just drifted apart.

But in recent years they found each other with the help of social media and have reformed as EL C (pronounced Elsie) and released Don't Cry for Christmas, inspired by their personal experiences of cancer.

Ian McConnell, a HR consultant originally from East Kilbride in Scotland, moved to Ireland more than 20 years ago with his first wife Janice, who died in 1995 after a cancer diagnosis.


He met his second wife Katherine Fitzgerald, a Dubliner, at a charity ball and she later became stepmother to his son Fraser and mum to their own two children, Cara and Ewan.

Then in 2007, at just 39, Katherine was diagnosed with breast cancer and after years of treatment and chemotherapy she died in January this year.

“Like most cancer sufferers she just got on with life and her life was very full,” says McConnell. Katherine had taken up running and went for a swim in the sea most days.

Before Katherine’s death she urged Ian to reconnect with his old band mates in Scotland and after 40 years they reunited in Dublin, spending a weekend in a cottage catching up and playing music.

Second bandmate, Gordon Kerr was formerly head of marketing for Waterstones and Bloomsbury (publisher of the Harry Potter books) before he launched his own successful writing career.

He has written more than 30 books, including the best-selling Short History series.

Gordon’s daughter was diagnosed with cervical cancer at just 18 years old, but after a number of operations she is now doing well.

Glaswegian Iain Macdonald, the third member of EL C, met Ian and Gordon as a teenager and was the lead vocal in their original band Elsie at the Piano.

Iain continued to play semi-professionally in the pubs and clubs of Scotland for a time after the band members parted. A sales executive in the construction industry, he was also one of a syndicate of nine who won the UK lottery.

Mark Mellett, head of fundraising with the Irish Cancer Society, said: "Every day in Ireland 150 people get a cancer diagnosis, and very tragically one person dies every hour from cancer.

“By downloading this festive track you will help fund vital cancer research to improve how we diagnose and treat this disease, so that one day we can stop cancer. Money raised will also help ensure a person who has just been diagnosed has the correct information and support to help them through such a frightening and worrying time, ” Mr Mellett said.

The band members have set up online donation pages in Ireland and the UK for anyone who would like to make a donation to cancer causes.

The song can be purchased for less than €1 via, on GooglePlay, iTunes and other digital outlets with all proceeds going to the Irish Cancer Society in Ireland and Cancer Research UK.