Northern Ireland metallers unite for special fundraiser Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 February 2013 10:25

Blaze with WarCrux


A very special little boy has helped to bring together no fewer than 12 of Northern Ireland’s top heavy metal bands for an equally special fundraising gig in the heart of Belfast next month.


The 13-band Blazefest 3 takes place at the city's Empire Music Hall on Saturday March 9th, with every single penny going to the Royal Belfast Hospital For Sick Children.


The inspiration behind the heavy metal spectacular is five year-old Blaze Shields-Pettitt, who suffers from Severe Bilateral Hydronephrosis, a condition whereby both of his kidneys are stretched and swollen.  It affects one in 600 people.  In Blaze’s case, it was diagnosed during ante-natal scans:  his condition is complicated by the fact that he also suffers from Vesicoureteral Reflex (VUR), a condition which reverses the flow of urine between the bladder and kidneys.


Blaze’s mum, Dawn, explained more about his condition:


“It has affected him from before his birth, in that his bladder has been pushing urine back into the kidneys since he was in the womb:  as a result his kidneys were stretched out of shape, and he would constantly get urine infections.  Blaze also has hydra ureters and problems with his bladder. As a result, Blaze had a superpubic catheter - one that goes through the skin below the belly button and directly into the bladder - from he was seven weeks old, and had to have a pyleoplasty operation, to disconnect the ureter from the kidney, remove some of the kidney and reattach the ureter), as well as a lot of more minor operations.


“When he was six months old, he developed a condition called ESBL, which is a superbug like MRSA.  As Blaze had been on antibiotics since birth, this bug was resistant to all but one antibiotic.  This is the one time when we really were not sure that we would have our son home again.”


Fortunately, Blaze’s condition has improved slightly over the years, although he still requires regular medical attention, as Dawn explained:


“At the minute, his kidneys are more kidney-like than they have ever been, and he has been catheter free for two years now.  Unfortunately at the minute, he is having severe problems with his bladder not working correctly.  He is currently undergoing a lot of tests to see what the cause of these problems are:  it may be a result of the kidney problems he has always faced, or the possibility it may have been damaged through the operations he has had.  Blaze’s bladder at this minute in time does not function correctly, and has left him incontinent. Other than these problems, he is just your average P1 boy!




Dawn and her husband, Darren, are understandably proud of Blaze and his bravery:


“He has never let anything he has gone through drag him down. He is a real inspiration.  He has gone through so much already and he faces it all with a smile and a happy disposition. Blaze is a very happy, enthusiastic, clever and capable little boy:  he has achieved so much more than we could ever have dreamed of…


Three years ago, Darren and Dawn came up with the idea of combining their lifelong passion for heavy metal with their desire to show their thanks to the nursing teams at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.  And, so, Blazefest was born…


“We got the idea through our mutual love for heavy metal, and knowing friends who are in bands,” Dawn explained.


“We had no idea how easy or hard it would be to get a venue or bands. But, once we got the venue and approached the bands with Blaze's story, we were truly humbled by the response.  Every band we asked said yes!  And it has just gone from there…”


The first Blazefest took place in the former Spring And Airbrake in March 2011, and featured Belfast heavy metal legends Sweet Savage, alongside Sinocence, Honey For Christ, Nine Lies, Devilmakesthree, ForChristSake and Revengeance.


“For Blazefest 2 we wanted to make a line up a little less 'metal' so we had the awesome Pat McManus headline with Trucker Diablo, Pay*ola, Sandstone, Rebels By Nature, Conjuring Fate and Cross Eyed Mary.  For Blazefest 3, we have gone more metal again, but are also making it bigger, so this year it is an all day event with 13 bands playing.


“We didn’t want to overkill on Blazefest, so this is an annual event at the start of the year:  but we also run a tribute band night each October,” Dawn added.


“Through the concerts, and other events, we have been involved with we have raised in excess of £10,000.  Some of our first events raised money for the Children’s Kidney Fund, which is also in association with the Royal Belfast Hospital For Sick Children, and for the MRI Scanner Appeal, and we have also donated play equipment to the children’s wards within the hospital.”


The third annual Blazefest takes place at the Empire Music Hall on Saturday March 9th, starting at 2pm.  The local bands taking part are By Any Means, Sinocence, Bakken, WarCrux, Conjuring Fate, Double-Wide, Ceaseless Blight, Baleful Creed, Terminus, Astralnaut, Red Six and 7 Days Dead.  The headliners are Hungarian classic metallers Crossholder, who heard about Blaze on Facebook and are funding their own travel all the way from their native Budapest to appear at the event.


Tickets for Blazefest 3 cost £10 and are available from all usual Ticketmaster outlets, as well as


For further information on the event, and the bands taking part, visit