Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Mr Nice Guy’s piano donated to care home

Mr Nice Guy’s piano donated to care home

A PIANO that belonged to a Henley community stalwart has been donated to a care home for the
elderly.

The Welmar upright, which was owned by the Kenton Theatre’s former musical director Hedley Roberts for more than 40 years, is now in the communal lounge at the Chilterns Court Care Centre, off York Road.

It had remained at Mr Roberts’ house in Rotherfield Road since his death in 2002, aged 71, but after his widow Marjorie, 87, moved to the care home earlier this year, the family decided to donate it.

Henley removals firm HOT Moves transported and installed the piano free of charge.

Residents, staff and guests may play piano any time and the Orders of St John Care Trust, which runs the home, hopes to find volunteers to host regular “sing songs” around it.

The piano was probably made in Britain between the Twenties and Sixties and Mr Roberts’s daughters Lisa Baker and Debbie Wardle always remember it being in the house.

Mr Roberts frequently played it in his spare time as well as arranging and performing the musical accompaniment at the Kenton or for village drama groups. The family moved to Henley in the Sixties and Mr Roberts was known as “Mr Nice Guy” for his commitment to good causes.

He frequently played at the Mayor’s party for the over-70s and was an active member of Christ Church in Reading Road. He regularly visited prisons, children’s hospital wards and homes for the disabled and his final performance at the church was a carol he wrote for his family.

Mr Roberts, a sales director for the confectionery trade, also played for Henley Rugby Club and formed its veterans side. He scored the squad’s winning try at his final game on his 70th birthday. He died after being diagnosed with cancer.

Mrs Wardle said: “Music was one of Dad’s great loves and was always a huge part of his weekly routine. He was a very busy man and lived a full life.

“He was incredibly generous with his time and it’s wonderful that his piano has found a new purpose because none of us was terribly musical.

“It’s strange seeing it in a different place but it hasn’t been used for a long time and we’re so glad that it will bring people happiness instead of remaining shut away.

“He enjoyed entertaining the elderly so it has come full circle.”

She said the piano would particularly benefit those residents with dementia including her mother.

Mrs Wardle said: “She always enjoyed Dad’s performances and still comes alive when she hears music, as do many with dementia.

“It’s lovely to see her become enthused about something and hopefully others will enjoy it.”

Centre manager Maggie Coleman said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this generous donation and would really appreciate it if someone could volunteer to play it for the residents.”

Anyone who can help should call administrator Gillian Sanders on (01491) 526900.

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