Two top musicians made an emotional surprise visit to a care organisation and staged an uplifting concert in the garden.
After months of having to stay away because of the coronavirus restrictions, cellist David Petri and violinist Caroline Abbott were finally able to make a return to Pendine Park in Wrexham.
In normal times the talented duo are regular visitors as members of the world-famous Hallé orchestra who have worked in partnership for more than a decade as part of Pendine’s enrichment programme.
But the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the usual music sessions had to be suspended.
Off their own bat, David and Caroline have kept in touch by sending music videos to the locked down residents.
As a result of restrictions being eased, they have been able to travel to Pendine in person, as individuals rather than as members of the Hallé, and performed outside as the residents inside listened enraptured by the music.
David said: “We have been coming to Pendine Park for more than 10 years and have made so many friends among both residents and staff. We have got to know many residents personally and think of them as friends.
“Travel restrictions at the height of the pandemic meant we couldn’t travel to North Wales to play for residents, which we would have willingly volunteered to do.
“But what we were able to do was record some of the music we know is particularly enjoyed by some residents which we sent to Sarah Edwards, Pendine’s artist-in-residence, so they could be reminded of us.
“That was also a way of letting residents know we were thinking about them and were looking forward to visiting as soon as we were able.”
He added: “It’s been quite emotional getting back and playing for residents again especially as they had no idea in advance that we were coming.
“The weather has been kind and meant we could play in the garden while residents watched and listened from inside.”
Caroline also thoroughly enjoyed what was a personal visit and it was lovely seeing so many friends again.
She said: “After coming here for so many years with the Hallé, we have built a really strong relationship with many residents and staff. We actually feel we are part of the Pendine family.
“It was lovely to surprise residents with our visit as Sarah Edwards kept it a secret until we arrived. It was amazing to see the joy on the faces of so many residents when they saw us.”
She added: “David and I have enjoyed recording videos for residents and some we did as personal gifts for individual residents.
“The fact they brought pleasure to all the residents and they knew we were thinking about them was a lovely thought but nothing quite beats playing live here at Pendine Park. It really has been a lovely visit.”
Pendine Park’s artist-in-residence Sarah Edwards was delighted David and Caroline were able to make a surprise visit to play for residents.
She said: “It has been tough during the Coronavirus pandemic. We have continued enriching the lives of our residents as much as we can. However, our project with the Hallé, which has been going now for more than a decade, has had to be suspended.
“David and Caroline, independently of the Halle, have kept in touch and sent us lots of videos for residents to enjoy. They know the music residents enjoy and that has been fantastic.
“They also sent personal videos to some residents. They sent a recording of the Beatles song ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ to Penybryn resident Tony Ithell which left him very emotional.
“In addition, they sent a recording of Blue Danube for Bryn Bella resident Christine Jones who adores listening to them play.
“I kept their visit a secret until they arrived and to see residents so excited was lovely. We are so grateful to David and Caroline for their support. Their visit was purely voluntary and independent of the Halle. It was a very emotional experience and there were a few tears of joy.”
She added: “We have to continue being very careful to ensure we remain Covid-free which is why David and Caroline played outside but everyone was able to hear and see them and it was a really lovely occasion after what has been a very difficult few months of lock down.”
Christine Jones, 76, really enjoyed seeing and listening to David and Caroline play again.
She said: “I always love it when they come to play and could listen to them all day. It was a really nice surprise as I thought we would have to make do with the videos they have sent.
“The videos are amazing, and I watch them a lot but it’s much nicer seeing them play and hearing the music there and then.
“The virus has made things really hard, but we have kept busy doing artwork and of course watching and listening to the music videos they have sent.”
Meanwhile, Tony Ithell, 61, a former fork-lift driver, says he was delighted to receive a video of David and Caroline playing his favourite ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ tune.
He said: “I’ve always loved that Beatles tune. It made me very emotional when I got it. I love hearing them play and to see them today was great.
“It’s nice to get together and listen to the music. The virus has been hard but we have done lots of art work and projects which has kept us very busy. Today has been a real treat.”