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Veterans sing busker’s praise after Surbiton care home performances

A singer has become a hit at a Surbiton care home after being spotted busking by a member of staff.

Archie McKeown has become a regular performer at Royal Star & Garter since he was spotted singing in Kingston Market Place by the Home’s Wellbeing Coordinator Lesley O’Driscoll.

The Home provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia.

Archie wows residents with a selection of classics, ranging from Broadway, to opera, to Elvis. Among the favourites sung at Royal Star & Garter are Bring Him Home, Edelweiss, Nessun Dorma, Can’t Help Falling in Love and Moon River.

Explaining how he came to sing at Royal Star & Garter, Lesley said: “I was shopping in Kingston and all of a sudden I saw this young man singing, and he had the most extraordinary voice. I was blown away. I quickly checked that I could invite him to sing at the Home, and then introduced myself to him. I told him where I worked and who we cared for, and asked if he’d sing for us. I’m delighted he said yes. The residents love listening to him, and so do the staff!”

Archie said: “It was a pleasant surprise when I was approached by Lesley. I was very flattered.” The 23-year-old enjoys lots of busking, is part of a wedding band, and also writes and performs his own music.

But he says he gets a special thrill from performing at Royal Star & Garter: “I love it. When I busk, people are on the go. When I sing at weddings, it’s kind of hectic. But at Royal Star & Garter I feel that I’m singing to people that are really listening and appreciate what I’m doing. It’s a lovely atmosphere at the Home, the residents are really friendly and I always feel very welcome. Some come up to me after I’ve finished and say they enjoyed the performance, which means the world to me. I’ll never take compliments for granted!”

Among his many fans at Royal Star & Garter is Air Force veteran Vera. She said: “I think he’s superb. I would like to be his agent!”

Lesley is part of the Home’s dedicated Wellbeing Team, which deliver activities, companionship, outings and exercise for residents seven days a week.

Royal Star & Garter also has Homes in Solihull and High Wycombe. The Surbiton Home is welcoming new residents. For more information on this, or to work for the charity, go to www.starandgarter.org/surbiton

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