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World class musicians spread festive joy in Wrexham

Musicians from a  world class orchestra brought the magic of Christmas alive for care home residents.

The talented duo from the Hallé performed a string of festive favourites as part of an enrichment partnership with the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham.

Cellist and keyboard player David Petri and violinist Caroline Abbott spread the Yule Tide cheer for the residents of Pendine’s Hillbury and Gwern Alyn care homes.

Mrs Elsie Galley, who’s in her 90s, was praised by the professionals for her beautiful voice as she sang along to the Irving Berlin favourite White Christmas and the soulful In the Bleak Midwinter.

Elsie, a mum of two, grandmother of four and great-grand mum to a baby girl, is known for her love of music.

Carer Keziah de Souza said: “Elsie only came to live with us recently but she has found a place in all our hearts. She is so polite and gentle, and she loves music. We often find her singing along to herself in her room or in the recreational lounge.” 

Violinist Caroline Abbott said it was lovely to hear Elsie’s rendition of White Christmas. 

She told her: “You have such a delightful voice. It is a real pleasure to accompany you and to listen to you singing.”

Fellow residents who also enjoyed Caroline’s violin playing included Peter Cotton who smiled widely as he joined in with the traditional song The Holly and the Ivy.

Caroline and David say there is nothing better than seeing people’s faces light up and feeling they can express themselves through music.

The pair are both members of Manchester’s world famous Halle Orchestra and have worked for more than a decade with the Hallé’s community outreach projects, by playing music for those who are vulnerable.

They firmly believe in the therapeutic powers of music earlier in the day they ran a similar music workshop at Pendine’s Penybryn care home. 

David said: “We enjoy leading the music sessions but it is most rewarding when we can see the residents start smiling and begin to sing along with us as they recall the words to different songs. That is the best part of our job. It has long been known that music has therapeutic powers and we witness its benefits every time we come here.”

He and Caroline played a mix of Christmas songs and festive numbers from the movies and folklore, but they began by mixing things up a little with a modern favourite, Fairytale of New York, in tribute to Irish-born singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan who died on November 30.

Sisters Gail Wright and Lynn Rawlinson, were visiting their  aunty, Shirley Clutton, and Gail said: “I recognised Fairytale of New York immediately, it was great of them to include it in the programme and I could see everyone here was completely enchanted, such a lovely way to start the session.”

Residents Ann Evans and Audrey Roberts said the carol Silent Night put them in the mood for Christmas

The beat picked up with the continental song Feliz Navidad, which is Spanish for Merry Christmas, during which carer Rita Caruana and resident Raymond Heaps showed off a few dance moves.

Rita said: “The music sessions are such fun and especially at this time of the year when there is a festive buzz in the air. The residents especially love to join in with the traditional carols which they all remember with such affection.”

Residents Maureen Williams and Anne Ashfield especially enjoyed the melodic carols Once in Royal David’s City and Away in the Manger, which they recalled singing as children.

Maureen said: “It is a privilege for us to be able to sing along with musicians from the Halle.”

Her friend Mary Taylor whose visit coincided with the music session said: “It was a great surprise to find Maureen in the lounge here singing. What a wonderful way for them to spend an afternoon.” 

Manager Cindy Clutton said: “David and Caroline are absolute stars and their visit today was a truly wonderful and uplifting experience for residents, their families and the staff.

“Music and the arts generally are a part of daily life at Pendine but there is something extra special about the magic of Christmas that puts a twinkle in the eye and joy in your heart.”

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