Warrington is alive with the sound of the music, much to the delight of older people residing at Belong, and particularly for one accordion enthusiast, whose retirement from playing the instrument inspired a surprise visit from an entertainer to assist in keeping the care village singing and dancing.
Avid performer Harry Holroy regularly showcases his talents by hosting concerts for fellow residents at their Latchford home. But owing to his instrument’s weight (around 15lbs or just under 7 kilos) becoming too heavy to perch on his lap, the 95-year-old has had to give up one of his favourite pastimes.
Belong Warrington experience coordinator, Louise Kelly, provides more detail: “We all really missed the sounds of Harry and his accordion. We know how much it means to him and we wanted to do something special, so we arranged for a fellow accordionist to come in for a surprise show.”
The musical talents of Robert Burton filled the dementia specialist’s entertainment venue, which saw residents singing along and clapping, whilst others enjoyed the merriment by taking to the dancefloor. Later, personal meet and greets followed, with the guest of honour relishing the chance to share his happy memories of his passion.
Speaking of the experience, Harry said: “The music took me right back – I used to be able to play like Robert, you know! It’s been a wonderful afternoon, and I can’t believe this has all been for me.”
Having learnt the piano as a child, an accordion gifted to Harry by a friend led to him falling in love with the German instrument. He developed his competence by performing for his family before taking to the club circuit in and around Warrington.
Louise Kelly continues: “It was lovely session for everyone, and Harry was in his element. We’re grateful to Robert for joining us and for gifting a CD so we can continue sharing in the experience.
“A big part of our role is to support our customers to continue to enjoy life through activities that reflect their interests, so we’re pleased it’s been well received by all.”
Past guests at Belong Warrington include singers and choirs, saxophonists and theatre groups, and the not-for-profit organisation has recently partnered with the UK’s largest music therapy charity, Nordoff and Robbins. A visiting therapist is welcomed weekly to help its customers unlock memories, reduce isolation and regain their sense of identity, no matter their stage of dementia.