When I first met Professor Hall he’d just moved from the Victorian house where he’d lived with his wife for most of his married life. His wife and son had died, and he’d moved into a one bedroom apartment.
One of our initial tasks was helping him to sort out the huge boxes in the middle of his living room. And one of the first things we did was move them so he could play his piano.
We put a picture of his graduation on top and as I watched him play it meant the world to me. I could see the passion he had, every time his fingers touched the keyboard. It was a privilege to listen to him, it was magical.
Professor Hall, who is now 81, was the first black musician to graduate from Oxford University’s Music School. He spent his life as a professional organist and played all over the world. He became an official global ambassador for the United Nations, he met Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Tony Blair, Dr Martin Luther King, and Desmond Tutu.
As a Care Service Manager for Bluebird Care I went to do Professor Hall’s initial assessment and I’ve been supporting and monitoring his care ever since. When I got to know him and looked at his memorabilia, I knew he was someone special.
In late 2019 Professor Hall was receiving end of life support; he had been diagnosed with kidney failure and lung damage.
After he collapsed at a bookshop and was taken to hospital, we started providing daily support for him. We went on amazing journey together.
Professor Hall began accepting life changing treatments and support from the care assistants. I reassured him there were great things ahead for him to look forward to. Months later he was discharged from end-of-life support after making great progress.
He gained new strength and it was almost like he had found a new family. He greeted the care assistants by their names and had a great chat to them when they came to see him. They made a huge difference to his spirit.
Then in February 2020 Professor Hall contracted COVID-19. He was in intensive care and spent six weeks in hospital. Everyone was over the moon when he came home again. I did a deep clean of his flat, cleaned out his fridge and updated his care plans.
We organised trips for him, they were something for him to look forward to. He always wanted to go back to Horniman Museum in London, and I promised that one day I would make this happen. I got him a wheelchair and wheeled him around the museum, he was really excited and truly grateful. It was an amazing day, and I could tell it meant a lot to him. On the way home we organised a surprise, we arranged for an old friend of his to meet us at a restaurant by the river. It wasn’t just an unforgettable day for Professor Hall, it was an unforgettable day for me too and one that I’m very proud of and will hold dear for a very long time.
I could see how important it was for him to have contact with people he knew and so we went on a path to try to reunite him with his friends. On one of my days off I took him to meet a friend that he hadn’t seen for over 60 years, they were best friends at university. It was great to be there and see them reunited.
Professor Hall started wanting to be able to do more things, he became more confident again.
I have now set him up on social media. He uses Facebook and WhatsApp, and it helps him to reconnect with people he hasn’t met in so long. He keeps in touch with them on his phone. It brings him so much joy. Recently he was able to use Deliveroo, with my help. He is extremely intelligent; it’s rewarding and easy to sit with him and help him learn new things.
I also managed to set him up with Sky in his living room, I know how important cricket is to him and now he can watch it on television.
It’s ten years since I became a care assistant and I knew straight away it was the right job for me. I really felt that I’d done something good, and I wanted to tell my mum what I’d done.
I always find reasons to see Professor Hall, he enjoys my company. I’m very proud of my journey with him and very protective over his care. We have a great bond. I see his smile every time he sees me, and I smile when I see him too. It’s fascinating to listen to his stories.
Professor Hall has always been independent and active. The level of independence he gets from being at home means the world to him. He is charismatic and charming, he is a joy to be around, I’m so honoured to have met him.