In July we embarked on a gruelling 7 week tour of Concerts in the gardens of Care Homes across the UK. Travelling over 5000 miles this map shows just how much of the UK we covered.
I am delighted to report 62 concerts took place despite the Covid lockdowns chasing our tail. During one week alone there were six cancellations, but replacements were found and the homes that we visited at such short notice were absolutely thrilled.
It was a lot of fun despite the hard work and provided badly needed entertainment for both residents and key workers. Many of the homes had had no external activity for the past six months. To see the joy the shows brought to everyone in the Homes we visited was simply wonderful.
Overall, around 2,800 residents were entertained, of which 490 were Second World War veterans. The residents and key workers tapped their feet, clapped their hands, smiled again, sang along, waved flags and in many cases danced. Each concert turned in to a bit of a party.
We also paid a visit to the RBL Club in Jesmond, Tyne and Wear where we met up with the wonderful Billy Ness a DDay veteran who had missed out this year on attending our Garden Party.
We have received so many lovely thank you’s, here are just a couple:
The Manager of Dorrington House, Dereham said “Our residents were entertained by the most wonderful singers from The Not Forgotten. Some residents were brought to tears with emotions of happiness and memories, others enjoyed a lively dance. The smiles on everyone’s faces spoke volumes. We cant thank you enough. You have left very special memories for very special people.
Kelly, a Home Manager wrote: “Wow is all I can say. For residents that have not been able to enjoy entertainment for a long time, today changed all that. They had a fantastic time listening to the Not Forgotten singers that took their time to make them happy, smile and even dance.
“Personally as a Home Manager I must say today for myself watching the residents that I care for was one of the most enjoyable times I have had in my 20-year career. Please please keep doing what you are doing as this is one way to keep people smiling.”
A bigger challenge was the organisation of two socially distanced concerts with afternoon tea which we held in the gardens of Danny House in Sussex and to celebrate the Wrens Centenary Year a similar afternoon in the grounds of HMS Excellent. Over 250 veterans and their guests attended these two events.
The weather wasn’t kind to us at Danny House, despite it being mid- August. It tipped down for a while but that didn’t stop everyone having a lovely time. The sun did eventually shine which brought the veterans out on to the lawn for dancing, and the tea was delicious.
22 World War II veterans attended this event, with thanks to the London Taxi Benevolent Fund who drove them to Sussex for a much needed day out – some having been shielding for months.
We were luckier with the weather at HMS Excellent and the support of Warrant Officer Marty Pilbeam whose team was excellent too.
Sue Walters sent an email thanking us “What a fantastic afternoon, the weather, the music and the afternoon tea were superb. Everyone felt that the current world issues were lost for a few hours in the fun and relaxation of the day, it was just what we all needed”
Our thanks must go to Mickie, Annie and the team of performers – who had quite a challenge each day, finding places to change, coping with ever changing weather conditions but most of all finding bathroom facilities in the outdoors. One day we thought we had found the perfect spot behind a skip only to find there was a public footpath running just 5 metres away!
An unforeseen benefit of the tour was the difference it made to Martin Wilson who many of you know was seriously injured in Afghanistan in 2011, and had to learn his communication skills again. Martin became our roadie and the tour simply would not have run as smoothly as it did without him.
Martin loved being part of the tour, and as the photos show, he was ready and willing to help wherever needed. We’re incredibly grateful for all he did throughout the tour.
Overall, we’re thrilled with how the concert tour turned out, and we’re excited to bring more concerts to our veterans over the Christmas period.