Two world-class musicians who went above and beyond to help care home residents during the pandemic have won a major national award.
Cellist David Petri and violinist Caroline Abbott – members of the renowned Hallé orchestra – were among unsung heroes and heroines honoured at the Wales Care Awards 2022.
They were presented with a bronze accolade for their years of work bringing the therapeutic powers of music at Pendine Park’s care homes in Wrexham.
The talented pair have spent more than a decade with the Halé’’s community outreach projects, spreading joy among local communities.
During the pandemic lockdown when they could not visit care homes in person they voluntarily recorded a series of videos of “musical workshops” which were played to residents of Pendine Park care homes in Wrexham to help keep their spirits up.
They are so loved and respected by residents and staff that Pendine Park Artist in Residence Sarah Edwards nominated them for recognition at this year’s Wales Care Awards.
She said: “During pandemic lockdowns David and Caroline realised many residents would sorely miss live music so they voluntarily recorded more than 50 virtual workshops – nicknamed musical postcards – for screening online. They went above and beyond in doing this without being asked.”
She added that over the last ten years their visits have had a profound positive effect on residents and helped combat extreme feelings of loneliness and isolation: “They are true musical heroes.”
David and Caroline made it to the final shortlisted from scores of nominees for a Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation Award for promoting the arts in social care, with the category being sponsored by the Pendine Arts and Community Trust.
The winners of gold, silver and bronze were revealed at a ceremony at Cardiff City Hall.
Supported by lead sponsor Ontex UK and organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales, the awards celebrate exceptional work in the social care sector.
The event was live streamed online and the host for the evening was popular tenor, Wynne Evans, aka Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV advertisements.
David and Caroline said they felt hugely honoured to have been chosen as finalists.
The long-standing Hallé members do their outreach work in addition to playing in the world famous Manchester-based Hallé orchestra.
The Hallé works with a number of organisations which specialise in caring for the elderly and people living with dementia, and it is registered as a Dementia Friendly organisation.
David, Caroline and other orchestra members have received training on the impact of dementia on patients’ and carers’ lives and gained a greater awareness of the specific needs of more vulnerable concert-goers.
David is originally from Denmark, but now lives near Didsbury, south Manchester, and Caroline lives in central Didsbury. Both are stalwarts of the Hallé‘s Education and Community Programme which takes the orchestra’s music out to those in society who may not be able to make it to a concert hall.
They regularly lead interactive workshops at care homes encouraging participants to join in singing, moving to music, playing percussion or even having a go at conducting.
David said: “There is nothing better than seeing people’s faces light up and feeling they can express themselves through the music.”
Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the 2022 Wales Care Awards ceremony was all the more poignant because of the Covid pandemic and what front line staff had endured.
He said: “I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the wonderful people who work in social care after they rose magnificently and courageously to meet the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past couple of years.
“We have always recognised their true value and hopefully now the rest of Wales is also aware of how lucky we are as a nation to have them providing care and safeguarding our most vulnerable people.
“Our finalists are the best of the best and are here representing the whole social care workforce who all deserve a big pat on the back.
“There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.
“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.
“In the words of the powerful song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, let the Diolch last forever.
“We take our hats off to them.”