THE songs of Stevie Wonder and Carole King rang out in Attworth Close on Wirehill recently as residents celebrated a very special birthday.
Third year student midwife Jess James-Hill was coming up to her 30th and her mum Bev was concerned that, with lockdown, she wouldn’t be able to have a proper celebration.
So she put a shout out on Spotted for someone to serenade Jess on her big day – and her wish was answered by Debbie Joynes of the band ‘Imaner’ and director of the charity music festival GlastonBeoley.
Debbie was joined by local fundraiser and musician Rob Oliver, who, having seen her volunteer, offered to organise some backing tracks and play guitar.
“I’d been tagged into the conversation and I only live round the corner,” said Rob, who has himself helped raise thousands of pounds for charity from his cycling exploits.
“It was so typical of Debbie to step forward, she is a such a selfless person and always there for people.”
Jess’s birthday fell on a Thursday and Debbie and Rob set up their kit just before the 8pm as the Close turned out to Clap for Carers.
“I’d said to Debbie let’s do a couple of songs and it went from there,” said Rob.
After the applause for carers, Debbie burst in to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’ before following it up with Carole King’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend’.
The entire close then sang the traditional Happy Birthday as Jess wiped away a tear.
Debbie said she was missing performing live and had been delighted to answer Bev’s call.
“I just told her you can count on me, and then Rob got in touch and I thought ‘thank God, I won’t have to play the guitar’.
“But really this wasn’t about me or Rob, it was about Jess and her mum wanting to give her happy memories and it was a joy to be there.”
Bev added: “Your 30th birthday is a big deal and normally Jess would have been out celebrating with her friends.
“Although she’s still a student she’s volunteered to work – on the night she cried and was obviously a little bit embarrassed, but she was touched too.
“Rob and Debbie were such lovely, lovely people, they were fabulous.”