Care home residents sing and dance as they savour musical fun in the sun

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Hillbury residents enjoy an outdoor concert by David Petri and Caroline Abbott from the Halle orchestra. Pictured residents Norma Porter and Audrey Taylor enjoying the music. Picture Mandy Jones

Music-loving care home residents sang and danced away during an exclusive gig provided by two world class orchestra performers.

Dozens of residents and staff at Pendine Park’s Hillbury and Gwern Alyn care homes in Wrexham enjoyed some fun in the sun, as they savoured listening to an array of familiar favourites and were treated to ice creams.

The music was voluntarily provided by David Petri and Caroline Abbott of the renowned Hallé orchestra, who have regularly staged musical workshops with Pendine Park residents for more than a decade.

The Covid-19 pandemic has limited the pair’s visits in recent months, but they were delighted to be reunited with residents and staff for the gig outside Hillbury.

David and Caroline hit the high notes while playing the keyboard and violin respectively, with audience members hailing their performance as “first class”.

The neighbouring care homes on Hillbury Road and Percy Road in Wrexham joined forces to relish a repertoire of musical favourites from across the British Isles and beyond, such as Delilah, Drunken Sailor, What a Wonderful World and, appropriately for the sun-kissed conditions, Bring Me Sunshine and You Are My Sunshine.

Among the residents who had a ball was Valerie Barnett, who lived in Flint for more than 30 years before moving to Gwern Alyn two years ago, and she passionately sang along to the tunes performed throughout the afternoon.

David and Caroline obliged when Valerie requested a rendition of The Beatles classic Hey Jude, which she sang with gusto.

“I love music and I have really enjoyed it today,” said Valerie, 72. “I particularly love The Beatles.

“It is nice to be able to sing along to the music. They are very good.

“I like living at Gwern Alyn and it is nice when we get to do things like this.”

Not only were residents and staff able to enjoy listening to the music as they sat in the sunshine, but they were able to tuck into complimentary ice creams.

Among those enjoying the afternoon’s festivities was 85-year-old Hillbury resident Peter Hodder.

“It has been excellent. The music really has been first class,” said Peter, originally from Holywell.

“I have enjoyed all the songs. I really like what they are doing and I would like to see them come here again.

“It has been very enjoyable.”

The sight of residents singing along or dancing with carers brought delight to David and Caroline, who were applauded by the audience after each song.

The duo staged a performance for residents at the homes at Pendine Park’s other Wrexham site on Summerhill Road on the same day, as they enjoyed reviving their long-standing partnership with the visionary care organisation that continually promotes residents engaging with the arts.

David said: “I think the residents here are fantastic. It has been great to see them joining in.

“It is a joint effort between us and the audience. I should also praise the carers here for how much they get involved in the performances.

“We have been coming here for about 13 years and it has been a long journey. Pendine Park showed extraordinary foresight in supporting music in care homes.

“They started something that is now becoming mainstream and accepted.

“We are very grateful to them. We have wanted to come here today and see our friends again and it has been fantastic.”

During the pandemic the Manchester-based pair have kept in touch with the care homes, having kindly sent a series of ‘musical postcard’ videos to residents during lockdown.

Having first made an emotional return to Pendine Park last summer, they now hope to be back on a more regular basis should lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

Caroline said: “It has been so good to see the way the audience have been involved today. The more they participate the better.

“It’s so lovely to see the smiles on their faces. When they start singing and they remember the words to the music that’s been in their lives for many decades, that is good to see.

“It feels like we are getting nearer to normality and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can be holding workshops again.”

Sarah Edwards, Pendine Park’s artist-in-residence, conveyed how delighted everyone from the homes was to welcome the duo back.

“We are absolutely thrilled that David and Caroline have continued to think about us throughout the pandemic and have wanted to do stuff for us,” she said.

“The residents really engage with the music and it’s an important part of our enrichment programme.

“It has been a lovely day and we hope David and Caroline come here again soon.

“They have come here voluntarily in their own time and we are can’t thank them enough for what they have done.”

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Hillbury residents enjoy an outdoor concert by David Petri and Caroline Abbott from the Halle orchestra. Pictured are Musicians David Petri and Caroline Abbott . Picture Mandy Jones
Hillbury residents enjoy an outdoor concert by David Petri and Caroline Abbott from the Halle orchestra. Pictured residents Norma Porter and Audrey Taylor enjoying the music. Picture Mandy Jones

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