PICTURES: Bridging the intergenerational gap

The Sompting Abbotts performance, the first of its kind at Greystoke Manor care home, was a great success
The Sompting Abbotts performance, the first of its kind at Greystoke Manor care home, was a great success

Schoolchildren have helped to bridge the intergenerational gap with music and song.

The Sompting Abbotts performance at Greystoke Manor care home in Ferring was the first of its kind at the home.

The elderly residents were beaming like never before after hearing various numbers from popular musicals.

Benjamin Holland, manager at the Church Lane home, said: “This is the first time we have arranged a concert with schoolchildren like this. It was a wonderful success.

“Our residents don’t get much involvement with young people and were so engaged with what they were seeing. Quite frankly, I’ve not seen so many smiles from them at any time.”

Mrs Annette Williamson, head of music at the independent school, curated the performance and accompanied the children on the piano.

Each of the children sang or played a solo and all had either recently taken or are soon due to take music exams

Mrs Williamson said: “The afternoon performance saw children from year two up to year eight play piano, violin, clarinet and cello and sing solos, with many from popular musicals such as Oliver!, Les Misérables, Alice in Wonderland and The Sound of Music, which the residents clearly really appreciated.”

The concert had been kept as a surprise for the residents and the music chosen was tailor-made for their generation.

Polly Burnell, procurement manager at Greystoke Manor, said: “The children were very chatty with the residents and they so obviously enjoyed their contact with the younger generation. The pupils were fun and polite, asking the older people to guess the title of what they were playing, and taking time to talk to them about their respective lives afterwards.

“Unfortunately, for some of our older people, it’s a rare thing to get that kind of young contact and they’re all still talking about the Sompting Abbotts’ concert now.”

Resident Hazel Moriaty, 90, said: “I loved it. The children were very natural and beautifully behaved. I was absolutely mesmerised and would love to see them again.”

Sompting Abbotts bursar David Sinclair has followed up by inviting all the care home residents for afternoon tea on the school lawn this summer.

Headmaster Stuart Douch said: “For both the school and the care home, the concert had enormous value.

“We very much encourage our children to perform in public to build their confidence and we also feel there are big benefits for bringing young people and old people together.

“Life has changed so fast in recent decades that these different generations have a lot to learn from each other.”