A CHURCH organist who is bravely battling prostate cancer has been giving the gift of music to his fellow patients at a Leeds hospital.
John Smith, 76, has spent the past six weeks putting a smile on the faces of patients at the Bexley Wing at St James’, playing his favourite songs on the grand piano in the building’s atrium.
With his wife Joy, 72, standing proudly by his side, John, who plays the organ at St Giles Church in Bramhope, has fought through the pain of his radiotherapy treatment to entertain other cancer sufferers in a selfless bid to raise their spirits.
Grandfather-of-six John, who has performed at York Minster and Leeds Town Hall, said: “The people here are remarkable and I’m privileged to play the piano for them.
“My wife Joy is always at my side and we are trying to put a bit of happiness into the hospital.
“As time’s gone on we have got to know so many people and they have become friends.”
John and Joy have been married for 50 years, and whilst he plays the piano, she lends a listening ear to patients who might want to chat.
John, of Alwoodley, added: “Without Joy, I am nothing. I couldn’t cope without her.”
Joy said: “The main aim is to fill this place with music. It makes the place feel alive, like it has a soul. It’s lovely to think you are giving pleasure and comfort to people.”
She added: “The people here are just so courageous and cheerful and the staff are phenomenal.”
The couple help raise money for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre and are hoping to return to the hospital as volunteers when John’s treatment finishes on Friday.
What the fans say
Terry Fearnley, 74, is also undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.
He said: “It is not the best place to come when you are here every week for treatment but to hear him playing as you walk through the door is wonderful.”
Hospital volunteer Maureen Dickinson said: “Everybody that comes here say they love it.
“It makes it not seem like a hospital. It cheers everyone up. It’s lovely.”
Wilfred Gilliard, 92, and Steve Marshall also perform on the piano for patients.