At the coal face

Former miner Ken Bon­sall’s band Fe­ro­cious Dog play a spe­cial con­cert in Wake­field next month. Dun­can Sea­man re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - MUSIC -

The loss of a child would have a pro­found ef­fect on any fam­ily.

For Ken Bon­sall the best way of hon­our­ing the mem­ory of his son Lee seemed to be to chan­nel his en­er­gies into his folk rock band Fe­ro­cious Dog.

Lee had given the band its name back when he was a tod­dler and his fa­ther was play­ing gigs in be­tween work­ing min­ing shifts at Wel­beck col­liery, in north Not­ting­hamshire.

When Lee took his own life in 2012 aged 24, he had been strug­gling with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) – a con­di­tion that set in af­ter his best friend was shot dead while they were both serv­ing as sol­diers in Hel­mand prov­ince, Afghanistan.

“It was like we owed it to Lee to keep the name go­ing,” says Bon­sall, whose el­der son Daniel plays fid­dle in the band. “And what it does it oc­cu­pies you, you’ve got to fo­cus. We said the higher we get Fe­ro­cious Dog’s name is tes­ta­ment to Lee. It keeps his mem­ory go­ing in a way and that’s close to the peo­ple who know the band and know where the name comes from. It started off as a joke but we kept the name. Now he’s not here that’s where we throw ev­ery­thing.”

The fam­ily have also set up a me­mo­rial fund in Lee’s name, to help other suf­fer­ers of PTSD.

Two years ago Fe­ro­cious Dog be­came a six-piece and the gigs grad­u­ally got big­ger. “New band mem­bers does help,” ad­mits Bon­sall, “be­cause you get peo­ple who are more pro­fes­sional who want the mu­sic in­dus­try kind of thing rather than just be­ing a pub band.” Al­though drum­mer Scott Wal­ters re­cently had to bow out due to his own busi­ness com­mit­ments, the band swiftly found a re­place­ment in Alex Smith. “The good thing about hav­ing the stature of Fe­ro­cious Dog is you get good peo­ple who want to be on board, so we’ve now got re­ally pro­fes­sional play­ers who’ve played with world-fa­mous bands like The Damned,” says Bon­sall.

The good thing

is... you get good peo­ple who want to be on

board.

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