The Paul & Nick Harvey Fund
"Music continues where the printed word stops,
and it continues in a way that is magical."
- Paul Harvey
When Nick Harvey’s tweet of his father Paul, who is living with dementia, went viral last year, the BBC featured the father and son on their breakfast show on BBC1. Scottish philanthropist Tom Hunter was so moved by what he saw that he donated £1m to charities who use the power of music to combat dementia. This week we were overjoyed to discover that not only would The Spitz be receiving £10,000 of this incredible donation, but that the BBC wished to visit Bridgeside Lodge to film a session as part of a package for TV.
BBC journalist Graham Satchell visited Bridgeside Lodge to see us in action and to speak with the Spitz team, BSL staff, management and most importantly to the residents. Graham and cameraman Darryl were kind, patient and respectful, putting residents at ease, especially resident John Chamen who had agreed to be interviewed on camera about his songwriting sessions and guitar lessons with The Spitz.
John arrived, guitar in hand, in his best suit with a new haircut and a neat shave to rapturous applause from musicians and carers alike. The change we've seen in John since he arrived at BSL has been unimaginable. As Fatma Makalo told Graham Satchell in her interview:
"John was admitted to us in 2017. He was given 3 months to live. He was
very frail, very unwell, he had a lot of anxiety, he was so withdrawn.
Through music we’ve got to know John’s life history, got to know
who John is and now he’s the centre of attention, he loves music he’s
such a fun person to be around and Hey ho, it’s 4 years on now, he’s
here with us and I think we’re going to get many years to come with John."
- Fatma Makalo, Manager of Bridgeside Lodge
The music started at 2pm, with more and more residents and staff joining us in the garden until the band of Arthur, Ben, Alice and Nat were playing to one of our biggest and most engaged groups of the year so far. This included family members of residents who happened to be visiting. It felt really good for them to see that their loved ones hadn’t been forgotten.
"It gives me a lot of hope about humanity. Just because you've
got dementia, for example, doesn’t mean that there isn't a whole
world in someone’s mind, a whole person, a whole view of life,
and a whole experience of life, a richness. It is amazing what music
can do in that sense, in a way it’s a tool like no other."
- Musician Alice Zawadzki
Resident DJ arrived and headed straight to the musicians and started clapping and dancing. He was more outgoing than we have seen him, relaxed and happy and ready for a party.
“Oh wow, it’s a party! I haven’t been to a party in years!”
We’d hoped to show the Spitz / BSL partnership in its best light and the residents and staff did not disappoint. GH’s singing, DJ’s drumming, John’s guitar, EJ’s maracas, and SI’s dancing, as well as the always-top-notch music from the band created a festival atmosphere in the garden. It was a community, a family, full of love and friendship: a creative hub. - “Have you got them on the payroll!?” joked one member of staff.
As is often the case with TV, the session was pulled together at the last minute, as we waited for confirmation of when the BBC would be visiting. It is testament to the hard work of the Spitz team, and the consummate professionalism of our musicians that the day was a huge success and we were able to present the very best of what we do. The weather forecast wasn't very encouraging either but we needn’t have worried. It stayed dry and it’s fair to say the BSL community know how to party! The event was moving, uplifting, and nothing short of magical.
Spitz events are often unpredictable, while we work to support the emotional needs of the community. Sometimes that might be to cry, and sometimes that might be to laugh and dance. Monday’s event was full of joy and friendship, touching each and every one of us.
“Sometimes you go on a job and it breaks your heart
and you end up in tears. Other times you get to
come somewhere like this and it’s a joy.”
- Darryl F, BBC videographer
The package went out four times on the BBC on Thursday 13th, including twice during breakfast. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the package with many people hearing about The Spitz for the first time. So if you’re reading this having just discovered us - welcome!
Also featured were the City of London Sinfonia who joined Paul and Nick Harvey in their garden to talk music and improvise a piece based on Paul’s “4 notes”. Cellist Becky Knight said of their work:
It’s the closest way of communicating with someone
where words aren’t really going to get there any more.
The £10,000 we’ve received from the Paul and Nick Harvey Fund will enable us to continue our group music sessions, as well as our 1-to-1 work which enables bed-bound residents and those not able to participate in larger events to benefit from the power of live music.
Just in case you missed it, here's the piece in full...
- We are The Spitz Charitable Trust (or The Spitz for short!) not 'Spitz Jazz Quartet' as stated in the video. We're a small core team, working with professional musicians including (but certainly not limited to) the four seen performing in the piece.
- We tend not to refer to our work as "music therapy". The term music therapy is defined by the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) as "psychological clinical intervention, delivered by HCPC registered music therapists to help people whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs."
We do not claim to be registered and/or qualified music therapists, but rather use highly professional and empatheic musicians to improve wellbeing while reducing isolation and loneliness, working in a way that becomes therapeutic.
50% of The Hunter Foundation’s donation was entrusted to Music For Dementia - a wonderful organisation who believe that everyone living with dementia should have access to music as part of their care from diagnosis to end of life, whatever their age, social or economic status - who then selected 27 charities between whom £500,000 was distributed.