Thank You Days
Updated: Jul 15
Musicians: Sunday - Nat Keen (guitar & vocals), Barnaby Keen (guitar & vocals), Sam Crowe (keys)
Monday - Nat Keen (guitar & vocals) and Michele Montolli (double bass)
On Sunday 4th July people across the UK celebrated the heroes of the past 17 months with the official Thank You Day. The Spitz thanked the incredible staff and caregivers at Bridgeside Lodge in two separate events on Sunday 4th and Monday 5th, supported by VirginMediaO2.
When two of our planned line-up for Sunday were tracked and traced, guitarist Nat Keen saved the day by summoning members of his Brazilian party band Big Ben Jorge.
Under yellow umbrellas, Nat, Barnaby and Sam played Brazilian tunes, while the staff and residents enjoyed cake and tea. Passers-by across the canal path stopped to record the party or sit and listen on benches. EJ put on a splash of red lipstick for the event, and S danced from the balcony.
GB, who we hadn’t seen in the garden since September, was brought down in his wheelchair. Although some cajoling was needed to convince him to leave his room, he immediately softened when he heard the music (and saw the cake!) Yet another example of the invaluable efforts of the care team. The social stimulus made a visible difference to his whole person; sitting up straighter, smiling, and tapping his feet to the beat.
JS, resident percussionist, made a beeline for the band; dancing, conducting, embodying the music. He picked out the tones of the different drums, humming along to them and listening carefully to the other musicians. Our sessions have brought out the performer in JS. His face lights up as he showcases his remarkable rhythmic talents. But JS’s skills also go further. He comforts his fellow residents. We’ve often seen JS dancing with his neighbours, but on Sunday we saw him take on a new role. S was distressed and anxious when we arrived. One of her carers brought her out to JS in the garden. He gently took her by the hands and waltzed with her. She stopped crying and began to laugh. Leyla told us that staff often take S to visit JS when she’s sad. His presence calms her and they have formed a trusting friendship, one resident to another.
There was a lovely celebratory atmosphere, however, the passing clouds, an occasional drop of rain, and the needs of residents meant the staff were still very much in work mode. On Monday, at our second Thank You event, the vibe was different...
Nat and double bassist Michele - on his first Spitz session - played a variety of different tunes to accompany the lunch party. Jazzy numbers, Brazilian samba and choro as well as South African folk music Food, cooked by various members of staff, was spread out buffet style, and the community came together like members of an extended family. Staff were able to fully relax and let their hair down.
Residents joined, taking part in the celebration. JS started back on his drums, telling us wisely: “You have to really listen and then work up to it.” OJ told us how she’s seen the difference drumming makes for him: “He can be very agitated, like he was today, but the music immediately helps take his mind off things. And he’s very good at it too!”
After eating, everyone got up to dance. This was their time. Jyophi, a carer from India who is a trained bharatanatyam dancer, was teaching us different moves. Others were feeling the beat in whichever wild and free way they wanted. As staff began to prepare for residents’ dinner time, they continued to dance. Cleaning up, chatting, and laughing, the staff were careful to save food for the night-shift team. Only among people who are really content and comfortable with each other can there be such a sense of connectedness. This is what we mean when we say music brings people together.
It's not easy to put into words the energy and the joy of the afternoon, but these photos and videos will give you a sense of it!