SINGING star Joe McElderry is urging South Tynesiders to support a fundraising concert for victims of the Japanese tsunami.
The 20-year-old X Factor and Popstar to Operastar champ is set to perform as the headline act at JapaNOISE, an event organised to raise funds for the Japanese Disaster Fund.
Joe, from Westoe, South Shields, said: “When the tsunami first hit, we all saw it on the news and all over the papers, but you never see the aftermath of it – and that’s when people really need help.
“When I was asked to take part in this event, I looked on the internet to find out what was happening now, and people don’t realise the devastation that is left behind. If I can stand on stage and sing and help to raise money to help those in need, then I’m proud to be part of it.”
The star-studded event at The Sage Gateshead on February 25 was organised by Northumbrian Water’s Jane Morland.
The corporate responsibility team leader said: “Like many others, I watched the sheer scale of the disaster unfold before my eyes through the media and felt utterly helpless.
“So much has been done to help rebuild the affected communities, but there are still thousands of people who will continue to struggle in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake disaster.”
She added: “I’m so happy to have Joe involved. Who else would you ask when hosting an event in the North East?”
Organisers of the JapaNOISE event hope to raise £50,000 for the Japanese Disaster Fund.
When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March last year, it left at least 15,500 people dead and 90,000 homeless.
A year later, there are still thousands living in small shelters, with no privacy or room to grieve lost loved ones.
Kingsley and Sayoko Smith, from the North East Japanese Women’s Association, established the Japanese Disaster Fund.
They have just returned from Fukushima and Miyagi, some of the areas worst hit.
They visited many of the devastated areas and spoke to survivors.
Mr Smith said: “The tsunami swept away people, buildings, cars, everything. Twenty thousand people died, 80,000 homes were destroyed and 150,000 people are still living in temporary accommodation.
“We are very thankful to Northumbrian Water for organising this event in aid of our charity, and also to Joe for getting involved.
“The money raised will be used to help orphaned children and other victims of this disaster, to re-establish schools and towards a grant for a remembrance garden dedicated to all those who have lost their lives.”
The event will also feature performances from Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall and others.
Tickets start at £35. Go to www.thesagegateshead.org for more details.