AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

Where some care homes play wall to wall Vera Lynn or ‘In the Mood’ on a loop, Grimston Court Care Home, owned by Wellburn Care Homes, in York think very differently. As well as having Spotify playlists within the home, they also play host to an annual music festival- Forever Young. This year’s festival was on September 2nd, and it was a huge success with residents, families and the community.

As well as residents and families from Grimston Court, visitors from Wellburn’s other 13 care homes came along. Ranging from Berwick and Newcastle, to Driffield and Richmond, residents flocked to Grimston Court, some of whom stayed as guests over for the weekend.

Ian Donaghy played ringmaster to outstanding performances from Steve Cassidy, Jess Steel, Heather Findlay and a group put together especially for the event, named ‘The Old Fiddles.’ The band was made up of veteran musicians, who have CV’s containing names such as The Rolling Stones and Tom Jones. Paul Wick of the Old Fiddles said “what an honour to play to such a big audience. The key to staying young (he is 72) is never hang up your guitar. Playing keeps you young.” The house band of top York musicians accompanied guest performers and provided a stunning finale to the day- where the audience raided the dressing up box from the photo-booth to sing and dance together. All ages were represented on the stages too, from under tens in the Valley Arts Youth Theatre Group and Maggie Wakeling aged 12, to the Royale Accordion group whose average age is 85 & whose most senior stalwart is 96!

As well as aiming to bring together people from all generations, Wellburn also had the intention of raising as much money for Age UK York and St Leonard’s Hospice as possible. The tombola table was emptied by 3pm, and with raffle prizes like a hot air balloon trip and a helicopter ride- the raffle was also a huge success. So successful in fact, that the event raised £7500 in total with Age UK York & St. Leonard’s Hospice receiving £3750 each.

Age UK York’s Sally Hutchinson said "what a phenomenal event at Grimston Court. Magic happens when we bring generations together sharing experiences, fun & cake!" Sarah Atkinson of St. Leonard’s Hospice reiterated these feelings, quoting “the welcome we all received today was fabulous. What an excellently organised event with such a friendly atmosphere.”

Ian, whose book Dear Dementia: The laughter & The Tears (a book endorsed by The Alzheimer's Society & in all libraries) commented “the problem with so many people’s perception of older people is they think like the grand Old Duke of York- ‘march them up to the top of the hill & march them down again.’ Why not just keep marching up with a big smile on our face to stay as young as possible?  We can learn so much from sharing their experience. Someone asked me if this is a festival for old people- no, it’s a festival for ALL people enjoying music together. Thank you to everyone for creating such beautiful memories. Let’s remember today will be the good old days in years to come.

Helen Lawson