A YOUNG musician has returned to Cumbria after using the power of music to help refugees in Greece.

Amy Hill, 24, returned to Castle Carrock on Saturday for a fundraising concert ahead of next month’s Music on the Marr.

Having performed at the village festival in the past, Amy featured alongside a small number of others tomorrow evening to raise funds for this year’s eagerly-anticipated 10th anniversary event.

Not long ago, Amy was a world away from the quiet north Cumbrian village, volunteering in the Nea Kavala refugee camp in northern Greece, close to the port city of Thessaloniki.

Taking in those fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, the camp became home to many families who had endured terrible suffering - experiences which are shaping her life and music.

“After graduation I got a scholarship from the university to pursue music abroad,” explained Amy, a former University of St Andrews student.

“Both in terms of how finding out about music can influence culture and identity, and also using music as a way of psychologically alleviating people who are suffering from trauma.”

Working as part of the grassroots voluntary group We Are Here, which set up a community centre in the camp, Amy began holding music classes and choir practices for women and children in the camp.

“In the community centre we had a space which was exclusively for women.

It was particularly valuable to women who perhaps felt they couldn’t fully express themselves in the camp, they might not have had that personal space or privacy.”

Spending six months in total volunteering in the camp, Amy found her time in the camp both intensely rewarding and emotionally difficult to process.

“I found it very difficult after I moved back home,” she said.

“Quite a few people stayed there longer, but for me six months was psychologically and financially the limit.”

Now working full-time in Edinburgh and performing across the city in her spare time, Amy said she would be keen to return to the camp.

“I’d definitely want to go back”, she said, “but I think I might want to go back by getting a job in that field, rather than as a volunteer.

“As a volunteer it’s hard to get that work-life balance because you never know where to draw the line.”

Saturday's concert was organised by Amy’s former music teacher Ben Draper. All of the performers were former students of his.

“I’m very lucky to have had such gifted students,” he said.

Richard Johnstone is in charge of programming for Music on the Marr.

He said: “We’ve always believed that giving the opportunity to young people to perform is one of the core responsibilities of our festival.

“It can be a daunting thing to stand up in front of strangers and play or sing - and we like to think we can give them a chance to do that in a warm, friendly and appreciative environment.

“Added to the fact that the bar is incredibly high in terms of their standard - they are selected very carefully.

“We’re incredibly proud of them all over the years - we’ve had well over 50 over the past ten years - and they have brought something very special to Music on the Marr.”