Musical morning allows older residents to escape city blues
AFTER 18 months in hospital, Greenmount resident Violet Walsh said she knew "what it is like to be incarcerated in prison".
Ms Walsh, 69, said it was a torturous year and a half in her hospital bed. She said she felt trapped between the four hospital walls, being drip-fed all her meals.
It's a ordeal that Ms Walsh she said no one else should have to suffer through.
When Ms Walsh finally left her hospital dorm she realised there were still hundreds of people trapped in their rooms - especially in the region's retirement villages.
"Some of these poor old sweeties they never get out of those four walls," she said.
As passionate musicians, Ms Walsh and her husband Geoff, 73, said music was the best medicine for those who struggled to escape their homes.
Six years ago the couple decided to begin hosting musical concerts in their Greenmount home specifically for their "age challenges" audience.
"It meant a lot to me to get them out," Ms Walsh said.
The long-time musicians said the calming country air, and the familiar music brought a new life to their visitors.
Ms Walsh said a magic took over when they performed.
"Some of the nurses say there are residents who haven't spoken to anyone for months. When they come here, they're singing along to all the songs," Ms Walsh said.
She said residents with dementia who struggled with simple conversations could recite every word of songs from half a century ago.
"They can't hold a conversation, but they know all the words," she said.
Ms Walsh said she had seen retirees dance circles around their nurses, while "old chappies in wheelchairs" were whizzed around the dance floor.
Earlier this month, PCYC Mackay seniors committee visited their home.
After greeting their 45 guests, the couple took to the stage for their duet.
With her husband by her side on the guitar, Ms Walsh began to sing into her bedazzled gold microphone.
Singing along in the audience was Lesley Leigh.
Ms Leigh said her singing voice was usually reserved only for her grandchildren, but at the musical morning she sung the words to the 1957 Everly Brothers classic, Bye-bye Love.
"I like these type of songs," she said
"They're from our era. That's our music."
Margaret Shannon said seeing the Walshes on stage brought back memories of her Saturday night evenings spent at the local hall dances of the 1950s and 1960s.
Ms Shannon said the Walshes were regular performers at the events that drew in "half the town".
She said without outings like the music morning many of her fellow PCYC members would be "stuck in their little units".
PCYC seniors committee secretary Alisa Hinchy said this was the organisation's third visit to the Walsh home.
"We always have a very lovely morning," Ms Hinchy said.
The country western fan, she would sing along with the Walshes.
"Coming from the 70s I know all the words," Ms Hinchy said.
But it was the dance floor where Ms Hinchy said she excelled.
She said at the last PCYC visit, she "led the way onto the floor".