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102-year-old retired musician steps back in time

Home news

A Sutton care home surprised an opera loving, retired musician with a very special experience.

When the team at Care UK’s Tennyson Grange, on Westmead Road, learned that resident Margaret Hurn was a lifelong opera fan – who had also performed in many operas as an orchestra musician – they knew they had to reunite her with her passion.

The team got to work and organised the special trip for the 102-year-old to visit the London Coliseum to see the English National Opera (ENO) perform Iolanthe.

In her younger years, Margaret had a successful career as a clarinet and bassoon player, once even playing in the orchestra for Iolanthe at Bourne Hall – a career highlight.

Margaret was first inspired to play instruments by her uncle who played a tin whistle and taught her how to play. By the age of 15, she had moved on to playing the clarinet saying, “I got on with it rather easily.” She went on to have a successful career as a clarinet player in the Sutton Symphony Orchestra, soon after Margaret went on to join the Banstead Musical Theatre playing the bassoon where they eventually moved to Bourne Hall.

On the day, Margaret was joined by her friends and fellow residents Helena, Beryl and Rita who also share a passion for opera.

To make the day extra special, the home team worked with the ENO to arrange for Margaret to meet the conductor of the show as well as meet some of the performers, and even try on some of the costumes and hats from the performance.

Commenting on the day, Margaret said: “My wish to see Iolanthe was granted in marvellous fashion, the ENO performance was magnificent, and it was a pleasure meeting the conductor.”

The trip to the opera was part of Tennyson Grange’s ‘Wishing Tree’ initiative, which allows residents to suggest ideas for new hobbies they’d like to try, places they’d like to visit or even activities linked to past careers. This encourages residents to live fulfilling lives – from skiing to a fish and chip supper, no wish is too big or small.

Brighton Nyagomo, General Manager at Tennyson Grange, said: “Margaret often speaks of her time in the orchestra and her love for the opera and we knew we had to reunite her with her passions. The team wasted no time working with the ENO to make this wish come true.

“Here at Tennyson Grange, we understand the importance of supporting residents to keep their passions alive. Seeing everyone have such a fantastic time enjoying the performance just reiterates how important our Wishing Tree initiative is in helping residents live fulfilling lives.

“We’d like to thank both the London Coliseum and the English National Opera for helping us make Margaret’s wish come true – it was truly a night to remember!”

Designed to enable residents to live active and fulfilled lives, while also promoting independence, Tennyson Grange incorporates space for hobby and leisure activities. The layout of the home has been configured to help facilitate the creation of close-knit communities and encourage social interaction among the residents.

Open to new residents

123 Westmead Road, Sutton, Greater London, SM1 4JE

Tennyson Grange

CQC Rating: Good
  • Residential care
  • Dementia care
  • Nursing care
  • Nursing dementia care
  • Respite care
  • End of life care
  • Day club

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