Twinkle-toed residents at a care home danced their way through the decades at a surprise concert courtesy of an award-winning painter.
After the long months of lockdown, Pendine Park’s Hillbury Care Home in Wrexham opened its doors to The Adderbury String Quartet for an afternoon concert, much to the delight of residents and staff.
The performance was funded by talented artist Angela Scott who hosted a charity art exhibition in honour of her sister, 91-year-old resident and former Mayor of Knutsford Jenny Holbrook, who suffers with dementia.
The watercolour painter, who lives at Sodylt Home Farm, Ellesmere, Shropshire, was joined by leading ceramist Caroline Pearce for the fundraiser, which netted more than £3,500 from the sale of 10 of Angela’s paintings while Caroline made a generous donation of £525.
The funds were split between Alzheimer’s Research and Hillbury Care Home, where Angela and Jenny’s niece, Rose Redgrave, daughter of the famous British sculptor, painter and poet, William Redgrave, helped organise an afternoon of music by leading musicians from The Adderbury String Quartet.
Jenny, 91, was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago and has been living at Pendine Park’s Hillbury Care Home since March following her rapid decline in the first lockdown.
Angela said the music afternoon provided a much-needed boost to her sister and all the residents, who always respond positively to musical therapy.
“It was amazing, it really brought a smile to my face and I just thought to myself, this is just what people with dementia need,” said Angela.
“Jenny was really animated – it was lovely to see. One of the care workers got a lady up to dance and soon, another joined in. There was plenty of foot-tapping and everyone really seemed to enjoy it.
“We had ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles. It was popular music they would remember and enjoy, mainly from the 70s and 80s. Rose plays the viola and teaches as a professor at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire so she searched for a playlist that dementia sufferers could respond to.
“This was all funded from the paintings sold at the exhibition. It was really rewarding to be able to give something back to the carers and staff, who work so hard on behalf of the residents.
“I was so grateful that after all these months the concert finally happened. It was the icing on the cake and especially lovely that Rose and Jenny could spend time together.”
Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton added: “It was an extremely successful afternoon and the residents really enjoyed it. Music does make a huge difference to anyone suffering with dementia.
“We had a bit of a waltz and a few of the residents were tapping their fingers or feet.
“It’s been really difficult through Covid but we’re starting to bring entertainment in again now, especially music. It has huge benefits for mental health and seeing new faces is so important for our residents.
“Obviously the team did what it could during lockdown but it’s not the same as someone different coming in and presenting a new face.
“Hillbury is very grateful for everything Angela does. As an artist, she plans to come in and hold some art therapy classes with the residents herself so we’re hoping to do that soon.”
In her younger days, Jenny lived a busy and active life. She was a former England Reserves Lacrosse player, Cheshire County tennis player and four times Mayor of Knutsford.
A lifelong teacher, Jenny wrote a book on the Art of Movement and Dance based on the Laban movement. She also held teaching positions in Wythenshawe in Manchester then in Canada and finally at West Sussex College.
Grandmother-of-four Angela, who has two sons, grew up in Altrincham and studied Fine Art and Pottery at Manchester College of Art and Design, graduating in 1964.
She has previously spoken of her sadness at the rapid deterioration of her intelligent and high-achieving sister through dementia.
“It has been a long and slow road as Jenny was diagnosed many years ago,” she said.
“When you see your lovely and intelligent sister, who has done so much in her life and for the local community, start to decline it’s so tragic.”
After graduating, Angela became a studio potter in Llangollen before teaching part-time at Wrexham College and then bringing up her family. It was after she was asked by a neighbour to illustrate a poetry book she considered returning to painting.
Her work reflects the beauty of nature and includes seascapes, landscapes and sunsets, mostly inspired from local beauty spots in Wales.
Angela’s large watercolour paintings have been exhibited extensively throughout the UK including at the RWS Bankside Gallery in London and the Air Gallery Dover Street, London, as well as winning numerous prizes.