Perfect Harmony as music charity granted £30,000

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THE award-winning Borders charity Harmony, which takes live music into care homes across the region, appears to be emerging from a period of financial uncertainty, having been granted £30,000-plus in the past three months, writes Andrew Keddie.

In the summer, the group, which gave 833 free concerts in 2010, was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of its nine-year contribution to the therapeutic wellbeing of hundreds of elderly and learning disabled people.

Many of the charity’s 25 volunteer musicians and singers attended the ceremony in Grange Hall Care Home near Earlston where Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale Lord Lieutentant Gerald Maitland Carew made the presentation.

The occasion was tinged with trepidation, not least because, in March, the Big Lottery, which had sustained the project for the previous three years, halted its funding.

Soon after the royal seal of approval was conferred, however, Harmony announced that a bid to the national Robertson Trust for £13,000 over the next three years had been successful.

This week, Harmony founder and chairperson, Violet Baillie, revealed that the charity had received even more largesse.

“We are celebrating because we have now obtained substantial financial support from a number of bodies,” she said.

“The Bank of Scotland Foundation has backed us with a grant of £9,500 while Age Scotland is giving us another £7,000 to provide concerts over the winter period.

“And, as good things always happen in threes, we’ve just heard that the Hugh Fraser Foundation is supporting us with a donation of £2,000.

“These grants, together with the sizeable donation from the Robertson Trust and some very generous local donations, mean we can continue to provide free, interactive musical performances in all care homes, day centres, long-stay hospital wards, dementia units and sheltered housing across the whole of the Borders.”

Mrs Baillie stressed that that local support for Harmony’s work, as well as an extremely positive evaluation by Stirling University, had been major factors in the latest round of grants.

“National charitable trusts will only view applications favourably when there is clear evidence of significant local support and for that we are truly grateful,” she said.