A Far Cry for first responders
TRAGIC STORY: Former firefighter-turned-songwriter supports White Helmets life-saving group in Syria
Paul Hookham spent 27 years with the Delta Fire Department. When he retired in 2012, the 61 year-old former fire captain, who is also a mountain guide and avalanche forecaster, pursued his other longtime passion: songwriting.
The man has a knack for a hook. He is under contract with Los Angelesbased Crucial Music and has published material covered by name artists. But Hookham isn’t looking for a hit with his latest tune.
Titled A Far Cry (afarcry.help/), the all-star session is a call to support the efforts of the White Helmets of Syria (whitehelmets.org).
“My son brought the work of these brave souls to my attention and when I looked into it I just couldn’t believe that first responders trying to save people were being targeted,” Hookham said on the phone from Whistler.
“They are petitioning the United Nations to demand an end to the use of improvised barrel bombs (often filled with chlorine, nails, etc.) and to enforce a ‘no-fly zone’ if necessary.
“These people are trying to save families and children in bombedout buildings and having bombs dropped on their heads.”
As a career first responder, Hookham believed that the tragic story of these non-aligned male and female civilian volunteer brigades working in the midst of Syria’s civil war demanded attention.
His song is a call for support for the White Helmets’ petition as well as a plea for donations to the organization for much-needed supplies.
“Drummer Ryan Hoyle (Collective Soul) has been my point man on all this, helping to bring together the guys who all embraced the project, and we got it done in three weeks,” Hookham said.
“Because of the petition submission date, it was time-sensitive.”
Financed by Hookham and featuring members of Carrie Underwood’s and Miley Cyrus’s bands, as well as players from Collective Soul, Blind Melon and Coquitlam vocalist Marlon O’Reilly, the track is available for free.
Hookham has no direct connection to the White Helmets, save correspondence outlining his project and support for first responders worldwide.
“I just can’t believe that anyone would drop a barrel bomb on responders trying to save victims with the goal of annihilating everyone,” said Hookham.
“And when the Syrian president was asked about it, he denied it entirely and said it was people throwing pots and pans. I’ve been apolitical all my life, but when I saw that report on CNN I was compelled to do something, and had the means.”
The White Helmets website states that these volunteers have saved 17,796 lives so far. They have lost many of their own in the process. As Hookham notes, his effort pales in comparison to theirs, but he hopes it helps.