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Singing’s a saviour for Allan

Care Services Positive Ageing Retirement Stories Connectedness Community
  • Intergenerational choir brings young and old together to share love of music
  • Pacific Lutheran College students and IRT aged care residents become ‘buddies’ for a term
  • Professional maestros from the Arts Health Institute lead program
  • Choir has given IRT Woodlands resident Allan Wolstenholme new lease of life
25 February 2018

An intergenerational choir at IRT Woodlands on the Sunshine Coast brings together aged care residents and students, encouraging them to learn from each other.

“It’s a great idea. It brings together the very young with the very old and we just get along and enjoy music”
Allan Wolstenholme

When Allan Wolstenholme moved into IRT Woodlands in 2016 his health was deteriorating and, in his own words, he didn’t think he’d make Christmas.

Then he discovered singing, and it’s given him a new lease of life.

Since staff encouraged Allan to join IRT Woodlands’ Sing Out Loud Choir, he hasn’t looked back. Professional maestros from the Arts Health Institute have taught him singing and poetry recital, which he says has resulted in a “greatly improved voice”.

“This voice gave me a new life and I’m building on it. I now follow my life in music and where it takes me,’ he says.

His newly discovered talent has led to solo performances at the choir’s regular concerts.

His wife Elaine, who still lives in the family home at Buderim, is always in the audience, cheering him on.

“She’s been my number one supporter and helped me through some hard times. I wouldn’t be here without her,” Allan says.

The choir’s part of an intergenerational program, which Allan and the other residents love. Year 5 students from the nearby Pacific Lutheran College join the residents on Fridays. Each student is ‘buddied’ with an elder and at the end of eight weeks they perform together.

“It’s a great idea. It brings together the very young with the very old and we just get along and enjoy music,” Allan says.

“They get to know us and they learn from us, as we learn from them. I love their enthusiasm, the fact they call it like it is and they’re happy.”


One of Allan’s recent buddies is 10-year-old Sebastian Carter.

“I like being with my buddy. Allan is a very nice man and he’s a good singer,” Sebastian says. The school supports the program because it helps build the students’ empathy and understanding.

“The students have been challenged to go beyond their comfort zones but always come back full of excitement and joy, having given of their time,” spokeswoman Sue Zweck says.

Allan treasures all the interactions he has with the children, including a card from his previous buddy Marcus Phythian.

“It’s been a great term singing with you. Thanks for telling me about your life and your family. You are a great singer. I’m going to miss you,” Marcus writes.

Then he adds: “You’re the best singer ever!”

Allan laughs heartily as he rereads Marcus’ words. “It’s all handwritten. I feel so touched.”

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