Shackleton banjo Kickstarter campaign raises more than $36,500 with ten days still to run

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Banjo manufacturer, The Great British Banjo Company, has passed the 75 per cent funded milestone in its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to create The Shackleton banjo.

Shackleton banjo, second prototype

Shackleton banjo, second prototype

We are making the first affordable British-made banjo for more than 60 years.

Banjo manufacturer, The Great British Banjo Company, has passed the 75 per cent funded milestone in its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to create The Shackleton banjo.

The company has received pledges totaling more than £22,500 ($36,500) towards its target of £30,000 ($48,000) which will enable it to produce its first batch of the British-made banjo.

The company's campaign has been supported online by a wide range of musicians and banjo luminaries, including Bela Fleck and Ned Luberecki, the UK's Mike Harding and Martin Simpson.

Supporters from all over the world have pledged between £15 and £2,500 ($4,000) to claim a variety of rewards ranging from souvenir gifts and clothing through to first-edition Shackleton banjos and the collectible hand-made Islander Ash Leaf banjo.

The Shackleton banjo will be the first volume-production to be manufactured in Britain for more than 60 years.

The instrument is named in honour of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the British explorer who led the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914.

The banjo belonging to the expedition's meteorologist played an unexpected but vital role in the journey, after Shackleton's ship Endurance was crushed by ice and had to be abandoned.

Although each man was only allowed to take two pounds in weight of personal possessions off the ship, Shackleton made an exception for the banjo, famously declaring: "We must have that banjo, it is vital mental medicine."

It proved a wise decision, because when Shackleton and a small team had to leave 22 men trapped on Elephant Island for several months while they set off on an 800-mile voyage in a small open boat to seek for help, the banjo played a vital role in maintaining morale for those left behind.

The marooned men held regular concert parties and wrote songs on the banjo.

"It's a fantastic story of British pluck and determination," explained Simon Middleton, managing director of The Great British Banjo Company, "and it has inspired us to undertake our own adventure: to build an affordable banjo in Britain, which has not been done for so many decades."

"We are thrilled with the response from banjo enthusiasts, as well as from people who just want to support British manufacturing," Middleton added.

Company Information:

The Great British Banjo Company Limited, which also owns online specialist store Banjos Direct, is based in Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

The company works with local craftsmen as well as instrument manufacturers in other parts of Britain.

The business was founded by brand adviser, business author and musician Simon Middleton and has grown rapidly to become the UK's best known banjo specialist retailer and manufacturer.

In 2012, the company launched the Islander Ash Leaf banjo, hand-made for the company in England by Malcolm McLeod, which has received glowing reviews from professional players in the UK and the USA.

The Great British Banjo Company is a private limited company, owned and managed by a small group of family and friends in Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

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Simon Middleton

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