Musical project crowdfunds to save generational bonds

Dusty Bluebells at the Pines Nursing Home with their first lottery grantDusty Bluebells at the Pines Nursing Home with their first lottery grant
Dusty Bluebells at the Pines Nursing Home with their first lottery grant
Dusty Bluebells is crowdfunding £4,000 to spread the joy of music and storytelling to nursing homes across Brighton and Hove with a spritely troop of nursery school children.

Weekly sessions have brought together residents of The Pines Nursing Home, Hove, and children from Hopscotch Nursery, to build connections and enjoy music.

The traditional songs sung by all include Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf and the Hokey Cokey, which get the older members moving.

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People are saying ‘Can you bring it to my child’s nursery? Or my parent’s nursing home?’,” said Tina Warnock, director of Belltree Music Therapy CIC and co-creator of non-profit Dusty Bluebells Arts in Health project.

John, 78 andGretchen, 92, playing instruments with the childrenJohn, 78 andGretchen, 92, playing instruments with the children
John, 78 andGretchen, 92, playing instruments with the children

“Everyone seems to want it. It’s just a beautiful project.”

Twelve pilot sessions, held by Tina and professional storyteller Fleur Shorthouse, ended last week when the lottery grant ran out.

The pair are now relying on donations to keep the project alive as they try to secure funding.

Tina spoke about the positive impact the project has had so far.

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“It’s so within the community and it has a little trickle effect within the families as well, the children go home and start singing the songs or telling the stories.”

She also spoke about loneliness and how this could be an all too familiar experience for those living away from loved ones.

The idea to combat this was formed when she noticed the way her little girl’s paternal grandmother, who suffers with dementia, reacted to her granddaughter being in the room.

“She just seemed to be more present and more able to connect with people.”

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The number of elderly participants grew over the weeks, joining the group made up of five or six children from the nursery, which Tina’s daughter also attended.

The group were told told stories by Fleur who adapted traditional tales so they were set in Brighton and Hove.

This included encouraging the children to imagine scenarios such as chasing the Gingerbread Man along Hove Lawns to the i360.

Tina then followed with an improvised piece of music which focused on the feelings of the scenario.

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“I think that’s fairly unique actually, taking the feelings, the emotions from a story and relating them to music,” said Tina.

John, 78 (pictured) was particularly touched when one of the children asked him to share an instrument.

“It was so nice when she chose me.”

Another young member of the group grew particularly fond of John and is planning to visit him with her mum now the sessions have ended.

Her mum said the sessions have made her daughter more caring and compassionate.

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Belltree Music Therapy CIC also offers music therapy to people with a range of communication and emotional difficulties, from trauma, mental illness and stress, to those with limited mobility.

Talking about her vision for the future of the Dusty Bluebells project, Tina said: “I’d love it if it would just become a normal part of the services in Brighton and Hove health and social care.”

To make a donation to the Dusty Bluebells project, visit:

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