Moment residents at a care home where 14 people have died of coronavirus are sung wartime songs


Heartwarming footage has captured residents at a coronavirus-hit care home where 14 people have died amid the coronavirus crisis being sung classic wartime songs to raise their spirits.  

Vera Lynn tribute act Deborah Taylor-Smith, known as the Geordie Sweetheart ‘Wor Vera’, sang a selection of morale-lifting songs such as ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ to entertain residents of Stanley Park Care Home in Stanley, County Durham.

The 37-year-old was dressed head to toe in 1940’s Navy attire topped with Victory rolls, as she performed for an hour to residents this afternoon.

Singer Deborah Taylor-Smith performed classic wartime songs dressed in 1940’s Navy attire to lift the spirits of residents at Stanley Park Care Home in Stanley, County Durham

A carer dressed in PPE and a resident dancing along to the classic wartime songs. It follows the care home losing 14 residents with coronavirus symptoms in recent days

A carer dressed in PPE and a resident dancing along to the classic wartime songs. It follows the care home losing 14 residents with coronavirus symptoms in recent days

The care home confirmed on Friday that a 14th resident had died following a concentrated coronavirus outbreak.

Deborah, a mother-of-four from Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, said: ‘It makes me so happy, if I can spread joy through singing then why not. It is worth its weight in gold to see the residents.

‘I am just singing songs, I am just a singer, it is not an important job but to me it is the best job in the world because it makes other people smile.

‘I have been boosting morale, I feel a little bit like how Vera Lynn might have felt, making people feel happy and positive during a difficult time.’

The professional singer added: ‘I was devastated – I thought I had lost my job when this began, I didn’t know what to do but then I woke up the next day and I just thought, I’ll sing anyway.’

Kelly Matthews, a wedding photographer from Stanley who organised the special event, said the pair wanted to bring some joy to the community during these difficult times.

A carer in PPE and a resident enjoying the songs. The singer said: 'I have been boosting morale, I feel a little bit like how Vera Lynn might have felt'

A carer in PPE and a resident enjoying the songs. The singer said: ‘I have been boosting morale, I feel a little bit like how Vera Lynn might have felt’

Carers from Stoneleigh Care Home dressed in PPE display a banner reading: 'Thinking of you Stanley Park. You are amazing, all our love, Stoneleigh'

Carers from Stoneleigh Care Home dressed in PPE display a banner reading: ‘Thinking of you Stanley Park. You are amazing, all our love, Stoneleigh’

The mother-of-two, 41, said: ‘There were families coming up to the home, who were staying safe, but you could see they were crying because they could see their family.

‘It was amazing, the amount of thank yous I have had, but they don’t need to thank me. Seeing the families is so emotional and I don’t need thanking.

‘Deborah has done an amazing job, it really was humbling. My video has had over 1,000 views.

‘It is people getting together and people supporting each other and that is what it is all about.’

Kelly added: ‘Stanley Park has had a lot of bad press recently, the care home has suffered from a lot.

‘They have lost a lot of residents but it is all over the country. I wanted to bring happiness and joy to the residents instead of leaving them sat and thinking about it.

Carers and residents in PPE dancing along to the songs. The singer said: 'It is not an important job but to me it is the best job in the world because it makes other people smile'

Carers and residents in PPE dancing along to the songs. The singer said: ‘It is not an important job but to me it is the best job in the world because it makes other people smile’

The Vera Lynn tribute act sang a selection of morale-lifting songs such as 'We'll Meet Again' and 'White Cliffs of Dover' to entertain care home residents

The Vera Lynn tribute act sang a selection of morale-lifting songs such as ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ to entertain care home residents

‘They get to enjoy life for an hour. You could see the residents, there are quite a few with dementia and they recognised the songs, they were singing along and dancing.

‘It is nostalgic for them, they recognise what they used to know. They were in the windows dancing, waving and the joy on their faces was amazing.

‘The home is in a residential area so everyone was able to come out and bring a lot of cheer. It is a cause close to my heart.

‘I first met Deborah at a wedding, she is a brilliant singer and as none of us can currently work she had said if anybody wanted her to sing outside a care home she would, so I just arranged for her to come out and do just that.’

It follows Care UK confirming this afternoon that a 14th resident from the home had died after suffering coronavirus symptoms and being transferred to hospital.

A spokesperson for Care UK told MailOnline there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus at the home, which has 71 places for residents, but was not full. 

One of the residents to have passed away was Ruth Turnbull, aged 82. 

Ruth Turnbull, above, passed away at Stanley Park Care home aged 82 after suffering coronavirus symptoms

Ms Turnbull pictured on holiday in Africa

Ruth Turnbull, pictured, passed away at Stanley Park Care home aged 82 after suffering coronavirus symptoms. Right: Ms Turnbull pictured on holiday in Africa

Her daughters Claire and Julie were told she had become ill on April 2, nine days before she passed away.

They had previously visited her every day but, due to lockdown restrictions, were unable to enter the home and so staff arranged two video calls for them.

Julie, 48, from Newton Hall, Durham, said: ‘We were able to see and speak to her on the days running up to her death, which we will always be grateful for.

‘We can only imagine how it must be for staff working there over the last few weeks, dealing with so much ill health and death within the course of their working days.

‘Leaving their families for the start of each shift, to knowingly go into work with the virus surrounding them, caring so professionally and lovingly for the residents, some in their last hours of life, to then return to their families unaware of what they may bring back with them, day after day.

‘For the dedication and commitment they have shown, we are very grateful.’ 

Ms Turnbull was born in Wheatley Hill, County Durham, in 1938. She attended the Girls Modern School and at 21, she married Harry Turnbull, a police constable from nearby Trimdon. 

Ms Turnbull and her husband Harry married at St Bartholomews Church in Thornley. They lived around the region until they settled in the Newton Hall area of Durham to bring up their family

Ms Turnbull and her husband Harry married at St Bartholomews Church in Thornley. They lived around the region until they settled in the Newton Hall area of Durham to bring up their family

Ms Turnbull pictured with her husband Harry at Wembley Stadium in 1990. The pair were happily married for 32 years until Harry died at the age of 58

Ms Turnbull pictured with her husband Harry at Wembley Stadium in 1990. The pair were happily married for 32 years until Harry died at the age of 58

Ms Turnbull worked in a chemist, a baker’s, for an insurance company and the Coal Board and also volunteered as a Special Constable for four years. 

She was actively involved with the charity Durham’s Friends of the Hospital for many years, raising funds for the local hospital.

When she retired she became a welcomer at Dryburn Hospital which then became the new University Hospital of North Durham when it opened, offering support to visitors on arrival. 

She travelled the world over a number of years to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Cambodia, Borneo, Kenya and South Africa as well as many parts of Europe.

Home Manager Christine Dudley said: ‘My team have been absolutely amazing. Despite grieving for the people they’ve supported for so long, they have continued to deliver the very best of care and to be there for each other and the families of those who have passed away. 

‘Stanley has always been a very close-knit community and we are touched that local people are thinking of us all in this way. 

‘We have been blown away by how supportive everyone in the local community has been with cards, cakes and flowers and this latest very kind gesture will provide another huge boost to morale. Thank you to everyone.’ 

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