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Rush frontman honoured by scholarship endowment

Guitarist Geddy Lee of legendary Canadian rockers Rush has had a wine scholarship created in his name.

The honour has been conferred on the Rush vocalist and bass guitarist by his fellow directors at the charitable foundation Grapes for Humanity.

The board voted unanimously to create a scholarship in his name, in perpetuity, for a student of winemaking at Niagara College in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

To establish the scholarship Grapes for Humanity Canada has committed $26,500, which will be matched by the Ontario provincial government.

The income will be used to provide an annual scholarship for a student in the second year of Niagara College’s Wine and Viticulture Technician programme who intends to pursue a career path in winemaking after graduation.

‘Niagara College is thrilled that Grapes for Humanity Canada is making this significant investment to support student learning and success, and the wine industry,’ Niagara College Foundation CEO Sean Kennedy said.

Toronto-based Lee (pictured), an enthusiastic wine collector, said he is proud to be associated with the foundation.

‘Grapes for Humanity Canada is a unique organisation of wine lovers such as myself who have found a way to help people around the world through their passion. And as such it seems appropriate that we now provide some support for our own blossoming wine industry here at home.’

The board said they decided to fund the Geddy Lee Scholarship to recognise Lee’s contribution over ten years to the foundation’s projects – not only financially but by giving his time and organisational skills.

Lee put together two trips for wine lovers to Tawse Winery in Niagara in September 2009 and to Huff Estate Winery in Prince Edward County last September.

Rush’s entire line-up are wine enthusiasts: on both occasions Lee was accompanied by lead guitarist Alex Lifeson. Drummer Neil Peart was unable to join them as he is based in California.

These wine trips along with the sale of Rush memorabilia have raised over CAN$350,000 for Grapes for Humanity Canada.

Rush, formed in 1968 in Toronto, is one of the world’s most long-lived rock bands. With 3 multi-platinum, 14 platinum and 24 gold discs they are third behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones for most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums. They have sold 25m albums worldwide, ranking them 79th in US sales.

In 1994 they joined Leonard Cohen, Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Shania Twain among others in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

For more information on Grapes For Humanity visit grapesforhumanity.com.

Written by Tony Aspler

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