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  • Writer's pictureKate Millett

Earth Day at Bridgeside Lodge

Updated: May 4, 2021

Musicians: Alice Zawadzki (voice & violin), Nat Keen (guitar) and Pete Lee (keyboard)

For the first time this year, the community at Bridgeside Lodge were able to listen to music outside in the sun. Just in time to celebrate International Earth Day! Thankfully we had photographer Barry Hoffman with us, to capture the mood (all photographs below are by Barry.) As resident O.J said:

“There is nothing like sunshine and good music to put a smile on your face.”

The care home became a creative hub of music, singing, spoken word and dancing. For the first half, the musicians performed some favourite tunes for the growing audience. Resident D.J was offered his usual set of bongo drums and sat down to play with the band. He listened carefully to find the beat and then joined in. Next came resident J.C and his guitar. He was dressed up in a dapper overcoat and smiling from ear to ear. We were suddenly watching a five-piece band, made up of some of London’s most talented musicians. Like the others, D.J and J.C were given solo breaks, cheered on by the audience. They were creative, aware and respectful of each other, making sure to get quieter for the other’s solo. The boost both men were getting from the experience was tangible.

“It’s nice to have that man with the guitar playing too. It humanises the experience. I very much enjoy using the drums. It’s wonderful because you have to really think about what you are doing.”

- Resident D.J, talking about J.C and their band.

Spitz Coordinator Thom noticed that J.C was holding his guitar differently. Whereas he used to hold it vertically, he was now holding it across his body, in the correct position. By the end of the afternoon the guitar had slipped back into his old positioning. This was perhaps because of tiredness or the excitement and distraction of being with the band, but we still feel his lessons with Thom have made a big difference.

“I’ve been practicing. You practice what you love, and practice does make perfect. I think I’m ready

for the stage now. I’m excited

to get up and perform.”


During the week, taking inspiration from the wonderful book “Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis”, some of the residents wrote their own letters to our planet. They all recognised the crisis we are in and compared the natural world today to what it had been when they were children - a powerful contrast. Residents were asked if they would like to read their letter out (or have it read it out) on the microphone. Three residents (M.B, J.C and O.J) volunteered and their letters were read out by Alice, set to different styles of music from Nat and Pete (personifying each of the authors.) Each called for change. Less pollution, less plastic, more care. From the audience there were shouts of agreement from other residents. You could be forgiven for forgetting the care home setting and thinking we were at an environmental rally. The knowledge and awareness of the current state of the world was staggering. Earth Day events like this were happening all around the world. After a year of intense isolation for the community at BSL, it was powerful to be part of something global.

Photos (c) Barry Hoffman

We were anxious not to forget our friends who weren’t able to come outside. After the letter reading, Spitz team member Kate took the iPad indoors, showing the live stream of the concert to bed-bound residents. A.S was particularly interested in new band member J.C, and even asked Kate to give him her room number so he could visit her in person (“Tell him to bring his guitar and play for me in my room!”)

The weather, the band, the letters, and the wonderful company made for a magical afternoon. As our first Spitz outdoor event of the year, it was everything we hoped it would be and more! After such a horrific 2020 it seemed the power of music and some sunshine was enough to lift our spirits. And the vibe spread! Across the canal one lady, sat listening to the music, was heard telling her friend:

“Everything feels different today…”

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