Care home residents keeping choir on song

The Oxford Times: Naomi Taylor, right, and members of the St John’s Care Home choir, who rely on a minibus to take them to performances. The home is  raising funds for a new one, because the old minibus, inset, is on its last legs Naomi Taylor, right, and members of the St John’s Care Home choir, who rely on a minibus to take them to performances. The home is raising funds for a new one, because the old minibus, inset, is on its last legs

RESIDENTS at an Oxford care home are raising money for a minibus so their new choir can tour the area.

St John’s Home in St Mary’s Road, East Oxford, is running a Roving Residents Minibus Appeal, hoping to raise £50,000 for a new minibus with disabled access.

So far £38,705 has been raised, with donations coming in thick and fast from relatives, friends of the home and the general public.

Their current minibus is about 14 years old and residents say it has seen better days.

It has been well used over the years to take them on regular outings to concerts, wildlife parks and their popular pub lunches. Administrator Naomi Taylor said: “Our residents really enjoy getting out and about. We like to think that we are unique and a rather special care home.

“They come here not just to end their days but to live their life to the full. That’s why the minibus is really important to us.

“With a new vehicle we would be able to venture further afield to the Cotswolds, the seaside and other locations.

”We can’t do that in the minibus we have at the moment.”

An active group of residents set up a new choir at the start of December and hope to benefit from a new vehicle by the summer. The choir was the idea of 89-year-old Olive Norton, and has about 10 members, aged from 73 upwards.

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The oldest is 101-year-old Anne Spalding, who also goes out on the home’s trips in the minibus.

Next summer – after a bit of practice – they hope to be able to sing to audiences around Oxfordshire.

Miss Taylor, 39, added: “We want to take the choir out and about so they can go and sing to people.

“But we can’t do that without a new minibus.”

Residents and staff have been actively fundraising to replace the vehicle. They organised a summer barbecue and a fun day sale, where knitted items and craft gifts were sold, which helped raise £3,327.

They have also received donations from Oxford businesses and Oxford University colleges, including £250 from St John’s, £100 from Merton, £500 from Christ Church, £250 from All Souls, and £50 from Somerville.

A further £5,000 came from the Garfield Weston Foundation, a grant-giving charity for UK registered charities. Another £10,000 was donated by a legacy to the home and £500 from Sainsbury’s in Cowley Road.

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