Fatma's Waltz

17th December 2020 09:00

"Adam has composed such a beautiful piece and I hope it will make a significant difference to the Beatson in the way they have made a significant difference to my journey through my illness."

Fatma Neilson

Top traditional musicians join forces to play for student Fatma!

Top traditional musicians join forces to play for student Fatma!

17th December 2020

"Adam has composed such a beautiful piece and I hope it will make a significant difference to the Beatson in the way they have made a significant difference to my journey through my illness."

Fatma Neilson

Beatson Cancer Charity will be celebrated in an epic new work from award-winning composer Adam Sutherland, marking the outstanding patient care received by his student, Fatma Neilson.

Beatson Cancer Charity is showcasing the remarkable new traditional musical composition, ‘Fatma’s Waltz’. Award-winning Scottish Fiddle player, composer and teacher Adam Sutherland has written and arranged this incredibly uplifting piece of music for his student Fatma Neilson. Inspired by conversations about her much-valued time at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre for her recent treatment, the student and the teacher have joined forces to create this fundraising appeal, in order to give something back.


‘Fatma’s Waltz’ reveals the rich story of Fatma Neilson, a retired experienced NHS nurse, who is being treated for stage 3 endometrial cancer. Originally from Glasgow, she worked and travelled through her nursing career across Scotland, England and Oman and has now retired and resides in Glengarry in the Highlands. Fatma has been so grateful for the support she’s received from the Beatson that she would like to help raise funds in support of its work.


#FatmasWaltzforBeatson will premiere on 17th December on BBC Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk. The aim is to try and raise at least £5,000 for the charity through sales of the recording and donations via Just Giving. 

To bring his composition to life, Adam hand-picked twenty-eight of the very best traditional musicians from Scotland, England and the USA. The recording and production of the composition took place entirely during Covid- 19 restrictions. Each artist’s audio and video contribution has been mixed together into a unique and uplifting audio performance inspired by Fatma’s story and with the aim of inspiring others to support the work of the Beatson.


Inspired by Fatma, a keen student of music, the piece is a deeply powerful way to express gratitude and the need to ‘repay’ towards the care she has received.

“Each member of staff appeared friendly, professional and genuinely caring- it seemed ingrained in the culture.”

“In the Beatson you feel that every life counts to them. The staff understand that, no matter what the outcome, your experience during treatment is almost as important as the treatment itself.” “There is a culture of hope and positivity that makes treatment easier to face. You feel that you are in safe hands.”

“I felt every possible thing that could be done for me was being done and that I was being given the best chance of having some quality time even if the eventual outcome was inevitable.”


The influence and appreciation of Beatson Cancer Charity is prevalent in this track using the music of the Highlands and Islands. For all information on how to donate, enjoy the video and download the track, head to adamsutherland.bandcamp.com/track/fatmas-waltz, justgiving.com/fundraising/fatmaswaltz.


Fatma said “Adam has composed such a beautiful piece and I hope it will make a significant difference to the Beatson in the way they have made a significant difference to my journey through my illness”.


Composer and musician Adam Sutherland met Fatma through his “School of Fiddle” teaching programme. The composition began life as he sought to help lift her spirits while she was undergoing treatment. Adam said “I heard that she was poorly and felt like trying to do something that could perhaps lift her spirits, so I wrote her a tune. At the time, there were many fundraising music videos being made for the NHS, and I thought the idea of making a charity fundraiser might appeal to Fatma, as she had worked as a nurse. I’ve also been fond of donating to charities over the course of my professional life, so I very much liked this idea too. When I floated the plan to her, asking if there was any charity that she felt drawn to helping, she immediately settled on Beatson Cancer Charity.”


The commission Fatma’s Waltz is a special project to celebrate the care received by a patient attending Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre and aims to raise awareness of the services which need continued fundraising.


The project has the backing of Patrick Grady, SNP MP for Glasgow North, who said “Fatma’s story, and the story of Fatma’s Waltz, is hugely inspiring, and I hope everyone who hears this fantastic piece of music will give what they can to help the Beatson continue its amazing work. It’s been a huge privilege to help connect Adam and Fatma with the team at the Beatson, and watch – and listen to – this incredible project come to fruition. We’ve all needed something to smile about during these difficult months, and it’s impossible not to smile after listening to Fatma’s Waltz and learning the story behind this very special composition.”


Maisie McCormick, Community Fundraising Manager, said “We’re thrilled to be supporting Fatma, Adam and the team for this special production and we hope this masterpiece will help bring our charity and its services to the thoughts of many more people. The power of music is a way of working through emotions, a form of expression and a way of sharing things that can never be adequately expressed in other ways. This is a lovely way to share Fatma’s story.”


All funds raised will help the charity towards continuing to provide their befriending service, as well as creating a sepsis awareness video, to ensure patients and nurses alike can identify sepsis at an early stage.

Fatma's Waltz premiered on BBC Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk on the 17th December, and across social media. Here's the full single and video below!

List of Musicians involved in producing Fatma’s Waltz

‘Fatma’s Waltz’ - composed, arranged, orchestrated and produced by Adam Sutherland
File Manager and Technical Support Guru: Iain Copeland
Recording engineer: Keir Long
Mixed by Marc Clement
Mastered by Denis Blackham
Video edited by Paul Jennings
‘Fatma’s Waltz’ logo by Somhairle MacDonald
Supervising Producer: Deirdre Craddock
Assistant Producers: Fatma Neilson, Patrick Grady MP

The Routes Quartet:
Madeleine Stewart – fiddle
David Lombardi – fiddle
Emma Tomlinson – viola
Rufus Merlin Huggan – cello

Rhythm Section:
Iain Copeland - drums
Dr Steve Forman - percussion
Cammy Maxwell – bass and double bass
Jenn Butterworth - guitar
Laura-Beth Salter - mandolin
Luc McNally - guitar
Catriona Hawksworth - keys

Brass Section:
Paul Spong - trumpet
Mikey Owers - trombone
Paul Towndro - sax

Gillian Fleetwood

Natalie Haas

Mairi Campbell

Patsy Reid
Seonaid Aitken
Chloë Bryce
Amy Geddes
Lauren MacColl
Ross Couper
Rosie Munro
Sally Simpson
Laura Wilkie
Rona Wilkie
Anna Massie