Tayside and Central Scotland

Violin-playing patient, 93, livens up Forth Valley ward

Alan Cairney Image copyright NHS Forth Valley
Image caption Alan Cairney's violin playing has cheered up staff and patients at Forth Valley Royal Hospital

A 93-year-old man has livened up a Forth Valley hospital by serenading fellow patients and staff with his violin.

Former semi-professional musician Alan Cairney, of Gartmore, has set feet tapping from his bed in Ward B31 at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

The classically trained violinist was a gigging musician in his younger days.

Hospital staff encourage Mr Cairney to play and his repertoire has become popular with patients and nurses alike.

The pensioner, who was born in Prestwick before moving to Glasgow, took up the violin aged nine or 10.

He said: "I thoroughly enjoyed playing except when my mother told me to practise. In those days coal was scarce and we didn't always have a fire in the room.

"If my parents wanted to listen to the wireless I had to go into a cold room and it was really difficult to play the violin with frozen hands."

'Cheers us up'

He added: "I remember sailing up the Clyde on the Jeanie Deans paddle steamer and my parents made me play on the boat.

"That was purgatory for me - I was just a young lad, 10 or 12, and a very shy boy."

A refrigeration engineer by trade, Mr Cairney's love of jazz saw him take up the double bass and play gigs with the likes of Acker Bilk and Terry Lightfoot.

He was prompted to bring his violin in to the hospital when he mentioned to someone that he could play.

Allison Cowie, NHS Forth Valley nursing auxiliary, said staff encouraged Mr Cairney.

She said: "He's absolutely brilliant. It cheers us all up, and some of the patients have said how much they like to hear him.

"I think he's the first violinist we've ever had in here - it's great to have your own personal musician in the ward."

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