Harmony set for a right royal knees-up

harmony concert.
harmony concert.
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A special concert will take place at a Borders care home this afternoon.

For it will mark the presentation of the prestigious Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award (QGJA) for Voluntary Service to Harmony, the local charity which uses music and song to enrich the lives of frail elderly people.

The award, considered the MBE for groups of volunteers who work for the benefit of others in their communities, will be given to Harmony founder and chairperson Violet Baillie by Lord Lieutenant, The Hon. Gerald Maitland-Carew, the Queen’s official representative in Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale.

Along with an exclusive piece of commemorative crystal, Mrs Baillie will receive a certificate signed by the Queen.

The venue – Grange Hall Care Home at Drygrange, near Melrose – is appropriate for it was there in 2001 that Mrs Baillie, in her role as activities officer, enlisted the services of her singer/guitarist friend John Irving to entertain residents.

“It was obvious back then how much residents enjoyed and benefited from the music, so we resolved to put together a group of musicians and run a pilot project which we could hopefully expand,” recalled Mr Irving, who will open today’s concert.

Invited guests, including representatives of Scottish Borders Council and the Big Lottery, which has helped fund the project in recent years, will also watch a DVD charting the progress of the charity from its small beginnings a decade ago. The concert will conclude with a set from folk band and long-term Harmony supporters Schiehallion.

Last year, Harmony’s pool of 25 musicians gave 833 concerts to older people in 85 different venues across the region.

“That amounts to a total audience of around 16,000 joining in by singing, dancing or clapping along,” said Harmony secretary Jim Smith. “We are absolutely thrilled our work has received this recognition.”

The citation on the QGJA, one of only 15 awarded in Scotland, acknowledges how the charity provides “free, interactive live musical performances to the frail elderly and their carers in all care homes, dementia units, day centres, hospitals and sheltered housing in the Scottish Borders”.

z Other Borders groups who have received the QGJA this year are Tweed Community Transport (Tweed Wheels) and the Upper Tweeddale Community and Red Cross drivers.