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Choir a lifeline for 94-year-old Occupation survivor

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FOR passengers waiting to board the ferry from Jersey’s Elizabeth Terminal on Tuesday a live choir’s rendition of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel’s 1970s hit Come Up and See Me was something to enjoy.

For the choir’s oldest member, 94-year-old Occupation survivor Don Dolbel, singing the tune is more than that – it’s a lifeline.

He joined the Grace Trust Parklife Choir ‘a long time ago – I can’t remember what year’ after he saw the doors open at All Saints Church, St Helier, and the choir practising inside.

Former BBC presenter Roger Bara, one of the co-founders, was inside and he asked to join.

‘Roger said to me, “Do you want to sing with us?” I thought he meant for the afternoon, but anyhow I got hooked and here I still am,’ said the pensioner.

‘It’s somewhere to spend an afternoon – I suppose that’s why I like it. I’ve been alone the past 18 years since my wife, Doreen, passed away, so I don’t have a home anymore. It’s an empty house, a shell.’

Don Dolbel. (25749393)

A 32-strong Parklife Choir yesterday, led by the Grace Trust’s Gerry Padden and Vini Jones, enjoyed a day trip to Guernsey and were due to perform there. From 8am they entertained crowds in the Elizabeth Terminal with hits including Come Up and See Me and Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop.

The cost of the trip to Guernsey was subsidised by Condor Ferries.

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Mr Padden explained that a coach was due to pick them up on the other side and take them for a tour, before returning them to St Peter Port, where they were due to sing.

The choir was first formed in 2009. Its longest-serving member, Jean Bonhomme (81), said she joined because she had always enjoyed singing and used to perform in the Eisteddfod as a child.

‘I love it because it brings me enjoyment. You always make friends and people love music. It makes people smile. It makes me smile,’ she said.

Founded in 1999, the Grace Trust is a Jersey registered charitable trust, embracing Christian principles and providing both practical and personal help to some of the most vulnerable and needy in the Island. It offers a food bank service and free meals at St Paul’s Church every Saturday.

The choir is open for anyone to join.

For more details visit gracetrust.com or contact Mr Padden on 631667 or Mr Jones on 07829782783.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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