British nursing home residents stand in for rock stars in brilliant album recreations
TORONTO -- A project to lift the spirits of residents of a U.K. nursing home that recreated a series of classic album covers -- everyone from Elvis to Taylor Swift -- with elderly folks posing as the rock stars, has turned into a viral sensation.
The idea was the brainchild of Robert Speker, activities director at Sydmar Lodge in Edgware, just north of London. He told CTV News Channel Monday that he has had the idea for a while, but the hardship of the pandemic lockdown, which has meant residents have not been able to see family or friends or have outside entertainment since March 12, made it the right time to do it.
“We are not a stereotypical care home,” Speker said. “We don’t really do quizzes and bingos. We think way outside the box. We can’t even see the box.”
Speker pitched the album cover he felt best suited each resident, and took charge of wardrobe, makeup, lighting and photography.
“Each resident I did it with had a real good laugh doing it.”
Vera, 93, does a lovely version of Adele’s 21 cover. Martin Steinberg in blue jeans stands in front of an English flag to recreate Bruce Springsteen’s iconic Born in the USA record cover.
Residents donned leather jackets and tattoos brought out their inner rock stars to pay tribute to Madonna, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash and British greats David Bowie, The Clash, and Queen, the latter featuring staff of the home.
“Carers have worked very hard during very testing times,” said Speker. “I felt this was a good way to acknowledge them.”
He posted the new photos alongside the album covers to Twitter Friday, and as of Monday night it has racked up more than 39,000 retweets and comments, more than 125,000 likes and media requests from all over the world.
Speker says the reaction has been “overwhelming” and that his sister has had to become his personal assistant, while his wife tends to the couple’s third child, born just a couple of weeks ago.
“Everybody wants to talk to me, which is bewildering.”
Speker hopes the sudden fame can be used to raise funds for Alzheimer’s UK and Dementia Friends, two charities chosen by the home’s residents. He’s launched a GoFundMe campaign, with a goal of about $3,400 (2,000 British pounds).
“As this situation is ongoing it could be months before the situation changes for them and the need to keep them happy entertained and full of spirit has never been more crucial,” Speker wrote in his crowdfunding appeal.
“Elderly people will remain in lockdown for a long time, and I want to make their time as happy and full of enjoyment and interest as possible.”
Many commenters on Speker’s Twitter post have suggested he create a book or calendar to raise money and plenty weighed in with suggestions for future album recreations, including Lady Gaga, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen.
“These are superb Robert...you warmed my heart and made me weep. Great idea of yours and humble thanks to all your brilliant residents & carers for taking part … Witty but filled with compassion & humanity too,” tweeted Patrina Finch.
Jolie Sumo posted: “These are so moving. Reminds me of my 97 year old grandmother telling me that on the inside she was still 18. Beautiful.”