Mamma Mia! Our singing residents have been ‘popping up’ in parks and open spaces across the south, creating joyful melodies in the fresh air and entertaining passers-by.
Weeks of rehearsals at various homes paved the way for public performances in Salisbury, Sherborne, Lymington and Christchurch.
Led by our Music and Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard, our ‘pop up’ choirs sang a wide range of tunes including pop hits and standards from the musicals.
And they kept the beat going with cardio drumming, the therapeutic practice of pounding drumsticks on large brightly coloured yoga balls lodged on buckets.
105-year-old Iris Stowell, the oldest resident at our Salisbury home Braemar Lodge, was among a ‘flash mob’ who made the short trip to the city’s Victoria Park for a singalong of tunes from the Abba musical Mamma Mia.
Reflecting the sparkle of 1970s discos, every performer, including Iris, was resplendent in a white sequined cap.
Iris said: “We had so much fun. It was brilliant.”
When the show got as far as Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), a fellow resident, aged 88, was heard to joke: “I’m glad I was only drumming along. I never expected to be performing something like that at my age!”
Braemar’s Clinical Lead Jackie Cash said: “Afterwards we enjoyed a picnic and a Pimms in our garden, toasting everyone as they came in. It was a fabulous day. We always enjoy ourselves on outings and this was lovely because it was the first time since last year we had been able to get out and do something without masks on. We could all see each other’s smiling faces.”
The choir performance in Sherborne took place at the town’s Pageant Gardens and involved residents from nearby Abbey View and Newstone House in Sturminster Newton.
Audience members included picnicking families from the Truth Be Told toddler group who have been regular visitors to our homes in normal times.
Among the songs featured were Oh What a Beautiful Day from the musical Oklahoma and, as a resident’s special request, The White Cliffs of Dover.
Fiona said: “It was so appropriate because when Vera Lynn sang it originally, people had just been through the most difficult time with World War Two. There are echoes of that spirit now as we continue to emerge from lockdown.”
The pop-up choir fun continued for residents at our New Forest homes with performances at Lymington’s Bath Road bandstand, the Red House Museum and Gardens in Christchurch and the outdoor terrace at our very own Avon Reach in Mudeford.
As well as Avon Reach, the homes taking part in one or more of these shows were Linden House, Belmore Lodge, Court Lodge, Kingfishers and Avon Cliff.
Fiona added: “Our residents simply love going out to entertain our friends in our local communities.”