Heartfelt musical exchange strengthens friendship between youth theatre and nursing home

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A heartfelt exchange of musical greetings has strengthened friendships between Chichester Festival Youth Theatre and a city nursing home.

When residents at Colten Care’s Wellington Grange received a video message sung by the young players and designed to keep their spirits up during this time of social distancing, they decided to respond in kind.

The theatre’s film, introduced by Community Trainee Ella Bassett, features a range of voices singing an acapella rendition of the gospel-inspired 1960s hit Stand By Me.

In her personal message to Wellington Grange, Ella said: “It’s really important that we all stay positive and smiling during these difficult times, so our youth theatre have been putting some things together for me to send you to hopefully put a smile on your face.”

As soon as they saw the video and heard the singing, residents and team members at the Broyle Road home took it upon themselves to create a fitting musical reply.

They worked with Colten Care’s Music and Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard to record a version of Abba’s Thank You for the Music, an idea put forward by Senior Companionship Team Leader Emily Hudson.

Fiona, a professional musician, guided staff and residents through the lyrics, recording the song in segments and topping and tailing it on the piano.

As well as the residents, the home’s message involves the voices of reception staff, carers, companions, nurses, kitchen and waiting staff, domestic assistants and housekeepers.

Speaking in the film, resident Jean Moss thanks the youth theatre for their Stand By Me greeting and praises their energy and talent. “They really were enjoying themselves,” said Jean. “That’s what I liked. They really wanted us to enjoy it here too.”

Emily then gave Ella a first look at the home’s musical reply. “It made me cry,” Ella wrote in an email back. “I am in tears watching this for the fifth time. Thank you so much. It’s gorgeous.”

Both films are available to watch at www.YouTube.com/ColtenCare and www.YouTube.com/ChichesterTheatre.

The exchange of greetings is the latest stage in a partnership between Chichester Festival Theatre and Wellington Grange going back to the home’s opening in 2016.

Since then, cast members from productions including Half A Sixpence, Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty have visited the home to give exclusive performances of scenes and songs for residents.

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