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Elderly musicians couple brings melodic sunshine to care homes

Over 200 engagements in 2001

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LONDON, Ontario - The retired musicians Bert (80) and Trudy (78) Ferwerda who first played for the area’s seniors’ homes in 1966, continue to entertain hundreds of people at care homes for the elderly in London and the vicinity of this southwestern Ontario city. The couple’s list of such engagements for 2001 was about 200. They also twice a week volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

Bert Ferwerda plays guitar and seven mouth organs he has fixed on a harmonica holder, which earned him the reputation of being an one-man band. The drum set he played with his feet are gone because his legs no longer could keep up with it. Trudy leads the singing, helps residents of the homes find pages in their songbooks, and occasionally reads poetry.

The Ferwerdas are a hard act to follow, everyone wants to be present when they are scheduled for a performance. "You can tell when people enjoy it, no one wants to miss it,” one event organizer recently said. London’s elderly are not the first to feel encouraged by Ferwerda’s performances. The musician draws from a lengthy career, going back to wartime Friesland when Ferwerda and his band played to inspire people. Much of what Ferwerda now plays are childhood hymns, with some people singing along, some clapping, some listening, and some hardly responding at all. But none want to miss the event.