Steel Threads Release “Beautiful Friend” – Richard Ashton Memorial Single in Aid of the WWF

Possibly the UK’s hardest working musos, North West folk rock band Steel Threads have released a single to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of a friend and former band mate.  The single is available as a free download with a suggested donation to animal welfare charity The WWF.

Steel Threads

Richard Ashton, from Royton, near Oldham, died aged 25 on July 11, 2003, after suffering a brain haemorrhage while he was playing football.  Richard was the singer in the band Tea With Monkeys, where he performed alongside his friend Neil Wardleworth, who is now singer/guitarist with Steel Threads.

Steel Threads have now recorded Beautiful Friend, a song written by Neil about his friend, for release both to commemorate ten years since Richard’s death and to raise money for the WWF, a charity close to Richard’s heart.

Said Neil: “Richard was a dear friend, and writing Beautiful Friend was part of coping with the grief when he died. It’s now ready to be shared, to remember Richard and to raise money for a charity which he was passionate about. ”

The song is free to download from the band’s Soundcloud page, with listeners then asked to make a donation via justgiving at

The release of the track has been supported fully by Richard’s parents Irene and Derek, who now live in Australia, close to his sister Jane.

They said: “We would like to thank Neil together with Steel Threads for releasing Beautiful Friend on the 10th anniversary of Richards passing. We always said this was a beautiful song that should be shared and we are so glad this is now happening.

We will always hold dear our memories of Richard with Tea With Monkeys. He was so excited about it, it was a dream come true for him and he was very proud to be one of the band.

It has been a very difficult 10 years without our Richard and it will always be that way. We are so grateful to Neil and all our wonderful friends who have been so supportive to us from that tragic day and over the years.”

Formed in Manchester in July 2011, Steel Threads’ first album Timing Is Everything was released in June 2012 and the band are currently working on their follow up album to be released via a Pledge Music campaign. In addition to Neil, the band includes Stuart Eastham on double bass and vocals and Laura Wilcockson on violin and vocals.

WWF uses donations to fund conservation programmes and field projects, campaigns, education and to raise awareness of environmental threats.

Steel Threads are constantly out on the road. Check their pages for dates but Rock-Zone UK can confirm that they return to The Railway Venue Bolton on 17th October as support to Damian Wilson (vocalist with Maiden United amongst others!).

To download the single:

To donate:

Steel Threads:

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