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Marines musicians bring music to hospitals in Covid response

Dancing on the ward in Exeter
15 February 2021
Musicians from the world-famous Royal Marines Band are caring for body and soul in hospitals in the South West.

Some 42 musicians from the service’s Collingwood and Portsmouth bands have been mobilised to help the NHS at its most testing hour, supporting front-line NHS staff at hospitals in Bournemouth and Bath, as well as the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter.

In times of conflict, the musicians down instruments and pick up stretchers, drive ambulances and assist the military’s full-time medics.
In this instance, they are supporting the government’s response to Covid in the South West, led by the Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade, freeing up NHS staff for clinical duties.

“Despite the unfamiliar roles that we have been tasked to support, the team have thrown themselves at every task and supported our brave NHS staff in every way they can,” explained team leader Warrant Officer 2nd Class Trev Naughton.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the selfless attitude of our people, taking on a huge variety of roles which has freed up the NHS staff to concentrate on their primary clinical roles. This has not only improved the care that’s given to the patients but also boosted the morale of our NHS staff.”

Not content with simply tending to the patient’s medical needs, the musicians have also responded in a way only they can, by demonstrating their talents during impromptu musical performances.

“Music delivers in a way only music can, lifting the spirits of both patients and staff alike. We are using our skills to provide some positive therapy amidst some very difficult times – and its impact has been immense,” said Trev.

They have lifted spirits in our team, brought another dynamic to the hospitals, and most of all, have an incredibly positive, can do attitude. We cannot thank them enough

Chantal Baker, Assistant Director of Nursing, NHS NIghtingale Exeter Hospital

The musicians have also sourced TVs and the like to allow patients to watch films, sporting events and their trademark event, the annual Mountbatten Festival of Music.

“From the moment we walked into the training room we knew this was a team to be reckoned with, but one clearly at ease with each other, with an evidently calm and caring nature,” said Chantal Baker, Assistant Director of Nursing at NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter.

“Everything we have asked of them has been delivered. They know all the patients by name - when they’re not supporting clinical duties or taking on family liaison roles, they can be found with our patients reading to them, playing games with them, or just simply chatting away together. It is incredibly touching to see.

“Their beautiful music has filled our corridors, pouring out from the wards for the patients”

The musicians also volunteered to carry out tests on NHS staff looking after patients in Exeter Nightingale’s high dependency unit.

“In just three days they successfully tested 90 members of staff – an incredible feat and something we would have never achieved without them,” Chantal added.

“I know that I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues when I say that the arrival of the military personnel has been timely and simply wonderful.

“They have lifted spirits in our team, brought another dynamic to the hospitals, and most of all, have an incredibly positive, can do attitude. We cannot thank them enough.”

The Royal Marines Band Service has five bands based throughout the United Kingdom, providing musical support to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, as well as delivering a wide variety of operational roles.

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