Bury band the Cajun Rascals bringing fun and laughter to care homes and hospitals

The Cajun Rascals, was formed by retired special education head teacher Gary Kirkley, from Greenmount last September.

His bandmate, former soldier and engineer Ronnie Wakefield, also a Greenmount resident, recently celebrated his 87th birthday.

The band set up after coronavirus restrictions were relaxed last year in an attempt to bring some happiness to those living in care homes and being looked after in hospitals.

The duo dish out fun and laughter with their own brand of musical memories.

Since they formed, they have performed 27 sessions and start their summer show on Sunday, May 1, to help raise funds for a care home in Ramsbottom.

There are a further 10 sessions planned throughout the summer in Bury and the surrounding areas.

Gary said: “As always, The Rascals are received in the friendliest way, by both staff and residents everywhere we go.

“It’s always a pleasure to come to homes and see how wonderful the care is, with staff who are so sensitive to the complex needs of their patients and residents.”

Ronnie explained how he remembers all the old songs and when people would get up in pubs and sing.

He said: “This is like a new lease of life for me, singing songs like I did 50 and 60 years ago. Music is universal.”

His daughters Lynn and Kristine believe that his enjoyment of the sessions has given him a measure of responsibility and something to be proud of, totally different from his previous working life.

Speaking about the power of music, Ronnie added: “Even when people have been brought into the session asleep, we see their feet to begin tapping, and then they awaken and join in the singing.”

John, a psychiatrist friend of Gary explained why the band is such a big hit.

He said: “Music can be used to communicate and engage with people with dementia.

“Research is increasingly demonstrating the positive effects of music for people with dementia, in improving general attention, memory, speech and communication skills.

“It can also help express feelings and connect with past memories, which are easier to recall.”

As well as singing, the Rascals engage the audience with logic questions and jokes.