Classical guitarist makes difference at Bethanie Peel

Classical guitarist makes difference at Bethanie Peel

LIFE for Roy Rimmer has changed dramatically.

Gone are the busy creative years of the past, replaced by empty frustrating days where speech and memory are uncertain, and dependence and pain are the norm.

That was until Jo Wood, a volunteer classical guitarist at Bethanie Peel, came along and sparked a light that seemed close to going out.

Roy (88) has a severe neurological condition as a result of numerous strokes, which prevents him from being very responsive.

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His receptive and expressive dysphasia means what he actually says may not be what his brain is thinking.

Roy was an innovator and ‘mover and shaker’ in the musical education of children and adults, first in England and later in WA after arriving in 1982.

He was superintendent of Music for Schools and Colleges, started music centres in Geraldton, Albany, Port Hedland and Esperance, was on the committee that established the WAAPA Conservatorium and was head of music at Christ Church Grammar School.

Roy was 72 when he retired but he suffered from depression almost immediately, as work had been everything to him.

His condition deteriorated and he had his first stroke.

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Over the past 10 years Roy has had another five strokes, each one taking away some of his ability to speak.

“He has changed so much from what he was when he was working; it’s hard to recognise the same person,’’ his wife Ann said.

“It’s almost as if he’s worn himself out.

“He suffers memory loss and he can’t reply coherently, but he understands with his eyes.

“It’s a huge relief to see his condition improving because Bethanie understands that when Roy listens to music, he is less frustrated and becomes calmer.”

Musician and local print maker Jo Wood started as a volunteer playing classical guitar in aged care homes in 2009, using it as an opportunity to polish up on her recital programs before concert performances.

Jo has been volunteering at Bethanie Peel since last year, when she first met Roy.

Bethanie Peel facility manager Annemarie Alexander said communication could be quite a challenge and Roy would sometimes refuse to eat.

Jo now sits with Roy and talks to him about music and instruments,

He now happily eats all the time and eagerly awaits her regular visit on Fridays.

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