Team members at Castle View in Poundbury were in fine voice as they staged a musical theatre thank-you to a 94-year-old resident who has led weekly services of worship all through the pandemic.
Companionship team member Lillie-Marie Harper and Jazmine Ball – a performing arts student at Chichester University who volunteers at the home – formed a duet to perform specially for a ‘surprised and delighted’ Reverend Jim Cocke, who was the Church of England’s longest serving priest before retirement.
The pair based their musical choices on Jim’s personal taste, interspersed with Shakespearian sonnets and lines from the Bard’s magical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Among the songs they performed was one of Jim’s all-time favourites, Louis Armstrong’s 1960s hit What a Wonderful World.
Jim responded enthusiastically, saying: “It was such a surprise. I very much enjoyed the afternoon.”
Fellow resident and audience member Jill Kember said: “I do so love the musicals and singing along is such a joy. Thank you so much.”
And Ann Scowcroft added: “Oh the girls sang all my favourite songs. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Companionship team leader Katja Williams explained that the performance was specially devised to show heartfelt gratitude for Jim’s continued efforts to lead the home’s active worship during lockdown.
Katja said: “Week in, week out, Reverend Jim has led our Sunday services without fail. He has given great comfort and peace to our residents ever since the first lockdown began.”
Before he retired in January 2020 and moved to Castle View, Jim had been an ordained priest for more than 67 years. He served as Vicar of All Saints’, Headington, Oxford, beginning his ministry as an assistant curate in 1952 and becoming Vicar there five years later.
After watching the special show performed in his honour, Rev Jim was presented with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of all by Nurse Beverly Welsh.