An important aspect of the work that we do at the Musicians Benevolent Fund is the support that we give to musicians and retired musicians through visits. Of all the help we’re able to provide, personal contact is one of the most valued and we have a dedicated team of volunteers working across the country to make sure no musician misses out on their annual visit.
In celebration of International Volunteer Day, 70 year old David Appleby shares his experience of being a Musicians Benevolent Fund Volunteer.
As my age approaches 70, I find that my driving speed is much slower than it used to be. And I no longer enjoy long drives either in my car or on the golf-course; my aging back sees to that. What the next ten years will bring (if I’m spared, as we Scots say) I don’t know, but I expect some things I have taken for granted will become impossible.
That’s why I have a lot of sympathy for other people who once did something well and can no longer manage to. Musicians in particular: people who once had real talent, who could entertain rooms full of people, and who could enjoy the applause their gift (and their hard work nourishing it) deserved. So I visit them on behalf of Help Musicians UK (which is what I am learning to call the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund).
With luck I can find recordings of them which we can talk about, or search the internet for their ‘desert island disks’ and turn them into a CD we can listen to together. Or we can talk about the even more extraordinary people they have made music with, and the places they have been. I can also check whether there is anything they need: are they still able to get about their house, or would a stair-lift help? Can they afford to stay warm?
It’s not the sort of volunteering which saves lives after wars or natural disasters, or improves peoples’ quality of life and life expectancy by digging wells – and I greatly respect those who do such things – but it’s something I can do because, although I never had anything like the talent of the people I visit, I too have enjoyed making music.
Would you like to join our little group? You might find it does more for you than you think. On this International Volunteer Day please give it a thought.
And you don’t have to be as old as me!