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Impromptu Churchill Hospital concert helps lift patients' spirits
IT is often a bleak place for cancer patients and their families.
But for one hour Oxford’s Churchill Hospital was transformed into an uplifting operatic venue.
On Wednesday, two award- winning city musicians held a recital concert inside the cancer care building.
The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust is researching how music and art can provide measurable health benefits to patients.
A grand piano – donated long ago by an unknown patient – was dusted off for the first of what the hospital hopes will be weekly performances.
Oxford baritone Jordan Bell, a Regent’s Park College philosophy lecturer, was accompanied on piano by his music tutor, operatic singer and world-renowned soprano Sara Wallander-Ross.
A domino effect of beaming faces quickly lit up the hospital as Gilbert and Sullivan show tunes, Cole Porter and Ivor Novello numbers bounced off the walls.
Hospital support worker Daniela Giurea of Abingdon dropped in on her lunch break at her own front-row seat.
The 43-year-old said: “I worked in Romanian hospitals for 23 years, but you would never see anything like this. It’s wonderful, he has a great voice.
“I don’t have the money to attend a concert, so to have someone in and sing that I can come and see on my break is amazing.
“You can tell by the faces how much it has done for people.”
Rachael Winslade was at the hospital for her three-times weekly treatment following a life-saving kidney transplant.
She sat in the cafe drinking coffee with a huge smile on her face as the unannounced show lifted her out of her difficult routine.
The 30-year-old Basingstoke resident said: “They’re the kind of songs that you recognise but don’t necessarily know. It’s really nice to sit in here and listen in.
“He has got an amazing voice, it’s made my day.”
Mrs Wallander-Ross said: “It was really fun to perform some songs which I would never normally do and to make a difference to people’s lives at the same time.
“We really hope people enjoyed it and that it made them maybe forget why they were in hospital for a while.”
Mr Bell added: “It was a very unique and fulfilling experience, personally.”
Ruth Charity, arts co-ordinator for the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Something like this can take people’s minds off why they are here. They can catch the end of a song, or hear something that reminds them of another time and it takes them away.”
Jazz pianist Nick Gill has offered to play each week and the hospital also has other performers, including Belarusian singer songwriter Tatiana Soloviova, lined up.