A special visit from Middlesbrough FC players inspired a care home resident with vascular dementia to play the organ – despite having no memory of how to play.
Former nun Sister Mary Major, 89, saw the electronic organ and instinctively sat down to entertain the VIPs in a miraculous feat of recall.
Believing she would not be able to revive her former skills, she played a tune from her time in the religious congregation, all without sheet music.
One the Boro’s players, striker Patrick Bamford was so stirred by her playing he decided to have a go himself – to the residents, staff and his team mates’ surprise.
Sister Mary said: “I was impressed. I thought he did very well.”
The Ingleby Care Home resident not only recalled her skills as a pianist but also speaks four languages, including French, Urdu, Italian and English.
She was born in North Ormesby and has lived in Darlington and Thornaby, working as a shorthand typist in hospitals before becoming a nun.
Carol Singleton, home manager at Ingleby Care Home, on Lamb Lane, Ingleby Barwick, said: “It was incredible to see Mary, who has advanced dementia, sit down and play a tune on the organ considering her condition.
“Everyone was very moved by her skill, which came as a huge shock, including our VIP guests from Middlesbrough Football Club.”
Joining Patrick Bamford from the club was Lewis Baker, Grant Leadbitter, Jonny Howson and Ryan Shotton, alongside members of the Middlesbrough FC National Citizenship Service (NCS).
They visited the home to officially open a new salon and pamper room for the residents – when Patrick took charge of the ceremonial scissors to cut the ribbon.
After the opening, midfielder Lewis Baker was the first in the chair asking for a short back and sides from hairdresser Lorraine Clark.
The “charming young men”, as one of the homes’ residents referred to the players, also took part in a parachute game, balloon tennis and signed shirts and flags.
Resident Mary Hobday, who had her photo taken with midfielder Jonny Howson, said: “Isn’t he lovely. I’ll treasure this memory forever.”
Mary then asked defender Ryan Shotton to sign her t-shirt. She said: “I’m not washing this now.”
Kirsty Walsh, activities coordinator at Ingleby Care Home, said: “The players were absolutely great. They couldn’t have been kinder or more engaging with the residents and visitors.
“We have been working with the Middlesbrough FC NCS for a couple of years now – with their young volunteers regularly coming to the home.
“This time it was great to welcome the players, who came along to officially open our new salon and pamper room – a facility our residents will thoroughly enjoy.”