Jazz concert held in memory of Louis Watkiss who died at the SnowDome

A memorial concert has been held to celebrate the life of 12-year-old Louis Watkiss who died after a collision at Tamworth SnowDome in September.

Louis from Sutton Coldfield, was a keen saxophone player and was part of B:Music's Jazzlines Ensemble and the Birmingham Schools' Jazz Ensemble.

The concert on Saturday 5 March took place in the Jennifer Blackwell performance space at Birmingham's Symphony Hall.

It included performances from some of Louis's tutors and peer mentors who delivered last year's Jazzlines Summer School which Louis attended shortly before he died.

Chosen with the help of Louis's dad Chris, the repertoire was a combination of Louis's favourite tunes and included Horace Silver's Song of My Father, Art Blakey's Moanin' and Brubeck's Take Five.

In the second half some of the youngsters he previously played with, performed tunes including Tequila and I Heard it Through The Grapevine.

Louis reached Grade 5 on the saxophone. Credit: Chris and Natalie Watkiss

Louis's dad Chris said: "I had a little bit to do with the first half of the music because they were favourite songs of Louis and I, that we sometimes played together, so it felt very nice hearing them although a tad emotional because some of them were put to lyrics and I never knew they could be.

"And then the second half was brilliant to hear. I mean, these young musicians and the quality, the standard they're at through the help of these ensembles, which are both charities: it's just amazing."

He adds: "It was a little bit sad because Louis would have been part of the second half for any other performance like this."

His mum Natalie said knowing the concert was coming up had helped the family.

She said: "I've had a great time. It's bittersweet but I've really really enjoyed it.

"Louis died in September and we're now at the point in the grieving process where it felt right to pause on the grief and the investigation (into his death) and all of that to actually spend some time celebrating him."

Youngsters who Louis played alongside performed in his memory Credit: ITV Central

Chris and Natalie who attended with their parents and Louis's brother George, five, said they were delighted with the turnout and that so many of his friends were able to come.

"A big, big thanks needs to go out to Plantsbrook School in Sutton Coldfield because through numerous fundraising activities, they raised over £4,000, which which we specified to be split between the two charities B:Music Jazzlines and Services For Education because they do such good work and I didn't know about them until Louis started learning the saxophone.

"The facilities and the opportunities they provide for children in the Birmingham area are gobsmacking, to be honest."

Natalie's parents also held a collection in their road and between all the neighbours raised £400.

The Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell was also at the concert. He is helping the family with their campaign to make it mandatory for all children to wear helmets at indoor ski slopes.

Chris and Natalie Watkiss with their MP Andrew Mitchell addressing the audience during the interval Credit: ITV Central

A large group of Louis's school friends were there to enjoy the music and remember him.

Ben Miles said: The concert was good. It reminded me of him and how he played. I really miss him. He was a great friend."

Toby Bryant told ITV Central:"Louis could play all of our favourite songs on the saxophone. He knew more about music than any of us really."

Grace Griffiths added: "I think he was really intelligent. I always wanted to be as smart as him. I looked up to him in a way."

Richard Foote from B:Music said: "We wanted to celebrate Louis's life and this seemed the most appropriate way of doing that.

"He came in every morning and he always had a big smile on his face. You could tell his passion for music."