For Cedric Collars, it is music – not laughter – that is the “best medicine”.
As a volunteer musician with MercyCare, Mr Collars shares his love of all things musical by providing fortnightly sing-a-longs for senior citizens, accompanied by his beloved keyboard.
Mr Collars, who has volunteered with MercyCare since December 2015, offers music and entertainment fortnightly for those who attend at McAuley Social Centre and Davis House in Wembley.
His dedication has been praised as part of National Volunteer Week, which acknowledges the generous contributions of volunteers in Australia.
Mr Collars, a retired aircraft avionics engineer, grew up as part of a musical family and started learning piano when he was a child. By the time he was a young man he had formed his own band.
He said volunteering his time to play for senior citizens, including many who live with dementia, warmed his heart.
“I get so much pleasure by bringing happiness back into the world,” Mr Collars said.
“It’s a wonderful feeling seeing the life and happiness glowing in their eyes, especially when they know the song and remember the tune. Music really is the best medicine.
“They don’t like the modern day songs. At Davis House they like a bit of Elvis, but at McAuley House they prefer the romantic tunes.
“If they stop clapping their hands and tapping their feet, I know they don’t like that song, so I won’t play it again. The challenge is in making everyone in the room believe that I’m playing the song just for them”.
MercyCare’s Respite and Social Centres Administrator, Paula Bignell said Mr Collars’ contribution had provided stimulation and conjured happy memories amongst the seniors through songs from their past.
“It is not an understatement to say that Cedric enriches their lives,” she said.
“He is totally committed to making connections through music. The tender way he communicates with the seniors is a mark of his professionalism.
MercyCare CEO Chris Hall, said the 175 MercyCare volunteers who selflessly donated their time to help others were greatly valued.
“National Volunteer Week gives us an opportunity to thank our volunteers who contribute to the social fabric of MercyCare and the many vital programs we offer.”
“Their generous contributions, across a range of our services, make very real differences to other people’s lives and can have a positive impact on our community as a whole.”