Mum was a fabulous encourager of people doing something different. Music was one aspect of her life that she loved and as a child had learnt to play the piano and the clarinet. So when we were younger we were encouraged to learn an instrument.
I chose firstly the piano. At home we had a baby grand piano that Mum had inherited and that was ‘secretly’ played by us all. I mean secretly because I think we were all wishing to play it, get better at it and probably (even if I say so myself), played so much better when we were alone!
I remember going off for lessons. Firstly with a lady who was later to become my step-great-aunt! Wyn was a feisty lady who I grew to love greatly in later years and someone I admired deeply. I then started having lessons with another lady in a different village. Now she really was a stickler and I remember on many occasion coming home with cuts and bruises on my knuckles where I hadn’t been playing well enough or perhaps my hand was too low on the keys! But I did at least learn how to play. Not to a particularly high standard. I can’t remember what grade I achieved but I loved playing and enjoyed many hours back at home (whilst my parents were in the garden and my brothers away at school), tinkling on the keys.
Even in later years, the piano stayed with Mum. In her final months she could no longer played but loved other people coming in and attempting a note or two. One of her carers, Neringa, played a little and Mum loved it. She was always encouraging her to play more, to try this piece or that. She even asked me to come over one day and play a duet with Neri.
Mum always said the piano was mine and she was just looking after it for me. I still have it, but sadly in storage as I live in a flat that just isn’t big enough for a baby grand piano. I miss not having it here. Mum also had said to me that she would love Neri to have some her sheet music, so after her passing, this was bundled up and given to Neri. I know she appreciated it and plays it too!
So it was no surprise that Mum had added into her Will a few specific gifts. One of these gifts was the Bedwyn Music Society. She had relished this Society’s ethos and entertainment. A few small recitals were put on every year in the local church, often enabling local musicians or budding youngsters the opportunity to play in front of an audience. No matter whatever the weather or how able she was feeling, she tried to attend each and every recital. I recall her carers once phoning me to say that she was insisting upon going and they had wheeled her chair in the pouring rain down the to church, one carer pushing and the other holding the umbrella. Apparently she had been in extreme pain that day in her chair but was determined to support it.
The Chairman of the Society, a lovely man, was so very chuffed to receive their first ever bequest and said that this donation was going to enable them to plan so many more recitals and concerts than they had thought possible this year. I just know Mum would love to think she was able to share her love of music with others through these concerts.
Tonight though was a a special gift for us, Mum’s family and friends:
BEDWYN MUSIC SOCIETY
PIANO RECITAL BY GRACE FRANCIS
Friday June 3rd, 7.30 pm, St Mary’s Church, Great Bedwyn
This concert is dedicated to the memory of Belinda Gilmour, a loyal and generous supporter of the Society.
A packed church celebrated Mum’s memory and listened to this beautiful recital.
It’s also refreshing to know that a sum of money (not enormous amount) can really make such a huge difference to others by sharing something you love. Thanks Mum.