Residents and staff at a Dorset care home found the perfect way to bid a fond farewell to a Eurovision Song Contest winner who worked with them during lockdown.
Brotherhood of Man singer Nicky Stevens joined the Companionship Team at Colten Care’s Outstanding-rated Ferndown home, Amberwood House, at the end of 2020.
Over the following months, the classically trained singer and pianist sang and played music for residents, led arts and crafts sessions, quizzes and games, and spent one-to-one time with individual residents.
On the day her temporary contract finished, Nicky was astonished when residents and staff gathered to perform their own version of her band’s Eurovision-winning song Save Your Kisses for Me.
With lyrics amended and personalised by Fiona Pritchard, Colten Care’s Music and Arts partner, the heartfelt musical tribute brought a tear to Nicky’s eye.
“I was busy sorting out afternoon tea with the residents and I could see a lot of staff coming down the corridor,” said Nicky. “I thought, ‘what’s going on, is there a meeting?’. Then they all entered the lounge and I said to myself, ‘this must be serious’. I never twigged until one of my fellow Companionship Team colleagues started making an announcement.
“When I heard the start of the singing, I couldn’t believe it. I heard later they had been practising for two weeks on days when I wasn’t in. I am so humbled they thought so much of me that they went to all that trouble. It made me very emotional and I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t get over it. Nobody has ever done anything like this for me before.”
Sung to the same tune as the original, the lyrics included lines such as: “Though we’re sad to see you go, We just want to let you know, That your time with us has brightened every day, We’ll miss you, it’s true.”
Among those serenading Nicky was resident Sheila Wakefield who said: “It has been such a joy to meet Nicky. We’ve all loved her.”
Like other performers, Nicky had been looking forward to a busy season of gigs last year before the Covid crisis hit, prompting her to respond to a Colten Care advert for entertainers and companions.
Now, as well as hoping to confirm Brotherhood of Man engagements in the pipeline, the easing of lockdown will enable Nicky to return to her other professional music activities as a voice coach, singing teacher and choir leader.
Reflecting on her time at Amberwood House, Nicky, who lives in Corfe Mullen, Dorset, said: “It was wonderful being there. I am so glad that circumstances made it possible. The knowledge I have gained is vast. It has opened my eyes tremendously.
“Seeing the nurses, carers and companions all working hands-on, you can understand that the amount of care that goes in for the wellbeing of residents is phenomenal. I have great empathy for people who find themselves in a care home. Helping to look after them is a lovely job. If you have a caring soul, it is so rewarding. It makes you feel really good.”