Care home resident strikes the right note for charity

Published: Friday 29 May 2020

Rebecca Parker, 98, who has been playing the piano every day at McClymont House during lockdown to raise money for charity and keep spirits up

One of the oldest residents of a Lanarkshire care home has embarked on an astonishing feat of musical endurance.

Despite living with arthritis, 98-years-young Mrs Rebecca Parker has embarked on a 100-day piano marathon for charity – to keep spirits of staff and fellow residents high in the face of lockdown restrictions.

Every morning, the nimble-fingered nonagenarian, originally from Skye, plays Scottish music on the Baby Grand piano of McClymont House, run by South Lanarkshire Council, in Lanark.

Despite residents having to remain separate because of distancing, the melodies can be heard throughout the home – providing a harmony of comfort for others.

Mrs Parker, a retired teacher, reveals she was part-inspired by Captain Tom Moore who raised more than £27m by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. 

Now halfway through her own endurance challenge, Mrs Parker, who raised her family in nearby Carluke after completing teacher training in Edinburgh in the 1940s, has generated nearly £3000 for NHS Lanarkshire endowment fund on her JustGiving page.

And she explained how her twinkle-keyed tour de force has roots in a lifelong passion.

Rebecca said: “My mother, Isabella MacLennan, was an accomplished pianist and that’s who really inspired all of this.

“Ultimately she had to give it up because of the demands of family life but I have vivid memories of her playing from early childhood.

“My two bothers and I would lie in beds in our home, in Broadford, Skye, and listen to her in the evenings when we were meant to be sleeping. 

“It was such a source of comfort and warmth.”

Mrs Parker added: “I was captivated when I was growing up and my mother taught me how to play. Today, I hope the music can have the same comforting effect on my friends here, especially when we can’t be near to each other.”

Mrs Parker caught the imagination of the nation after she made a recent appearance on network news. And that’s translated to a flurry of well-wishers.

Charles Delaney, Manager of McClymont House,  said: “There’s always been really strong links with the local community and McClymont. Our home is very much part of the fabric of local life.

“With restrictions, we’ve not been able to host visits, but our correspondence and communication with the community is as strong as ever.

“Many people have told me how inspired they’ve felt by Mrs Parker’s thoughtfulness. Although Mrs Parker’s harmonies can’t be heard outwith the walls, the compassionate sentiment behind her piano feat know no bounds. She’s not only raised money – but many smiles.”

Val de Souza, Chief Officer, South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, added: “Despite the ongoing challenges Covid-19 presents, Mrs Parker’s piano challenge represents the vibrancy, hope and community-spirit that prevails in our care homes.

“Mrs Parker’s stoicism and kindness is a source of inspiration for us all.”

Donations can still be made to Mrs Parker’s JustGiving page.