After entertaining MercyCare Wembley Residential Aged Care Home residents for a combined 50 years, MercyCare volunteers Pat Spillman, Val and Ken Metcalf recently retired from the musical limelight.
Pat has volunteered more than 25 years, while Val and Ken each contributed over 12 years.
From the Metcalf’s home in Mercy Village, over a cup of tea and Val’s mouth-watering date loaf fresh out of the oven, the songsters reminisced about old times, old tunes and old friends.
Unsurprisingly, most of their stories culminated in a group singalong.
“There were particular songs that got people – ‘She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain’, ‘It’s a Long way to Tipperary…,” Val said.
“At first, they’d be sitting straight and stiff and by the time we finished they were alive, singing along, tapping their feet.
“You’d get to know all of them, that was the best part about it.”
They agreed there was something magical about old-time songs, especially those from the war-time era, that unlocked memories and feelings of years gone by.
“It’s the music,” Pat said.
“There’s something about music that makes people remember things from such a long time ago.”
For Pat, Val and Ken, who share a life-long love of music, volunteering has never been a chore or added responsibility, it was quite the opposite they said.
They were simply doing what they loved and happy to be able to continue their love of music.
“We loved it just as much as the residents did and it was also a chance for us to get together, especially when there were more of us,” Ken said.
Their chorale originally took stage as a quartet, but one member passed away and another recently retired for health reasons.
The trio carried on singing and bringing smiles to faces, realising the impact their performances had on elderly residents.
“I think volunteering is very important,” Ken said.
“It fills a hole when others are not available, but we got just as much out of it.”
Retired they may be, but the trio doesn’t need much convincing to break into song.
And there’s no need for rehearsals; After so many years together, they know their songbooks and vocal parts by heart.