Dr Mark Porter
Celeb doc backs Gloucester's 'Zimmers'
Celebrity doctor Mark Porter is backing the multicultural music-makers out to prove that The Zimmers aren't a pensioner power one-off!
When two district nurses brought a group of patients into BBC Gloucestershire's studios in autumn 2006 to put a healthcare message to music, no one had heard of the Zimmers, the band of senior citizens who stormed the pop charts with their own version of The Who's My Generation.
Now Anna Gibbins and Lynn Davis hope the Zimmers' new-found fame as the face of pensioner power can help propel THEIR musical venture to success.
On song: the golden oldie singers
Gloucester's golden oldie songsters aren't looking to challenge the Zimmers' chart supremacy, though.
Their musical mission is to combat a chronic medical condition afflicting many older people - with top tips for keeping legs healthy set to a toe-tapping rhythm.
The group's dream is that doctors and nurses all over the country will be able to prescribe the CD to help fight leg ulcers and reduce the £800-million-plus bill it costs the NHS to treat them every year. And it's one step closer now Gloucestershire-based Dr Mark Porter - presenter of BBC Watchdog Healthcheck and Radio Four's Case Notes - has agreed to champion their cause.
Not content with just one version, Gloucester's oldest singers in town have recorded in rap, reggae, folk AND Bollywood style to give their funky footcare message a multicultural dimension.
Five members of the group - Frank, Lynne, Anna, May and Violet - told their story on the BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast show. Listen here:
So how did it come about? Anna Gibbins explains: "It grew out of a support group for patients Lynn and I had treated for leg ulcers. We produced a leaflet of self-care tips to help stop the condition recurring, then someone suggested we could put them to music and we thought 'why not'?
"We were amazed when we found out about the Zimmers because our project has been 18 months in the making and we recorded our songs last autumn. The big idea is that doctors and nurses all over the country will be able to prescribe the CD
"The two groups have lots in common and it would be fantastic if they could meet.
"Many of the patients we worked with have been housebound and socially isolated by their condition, but like the Zimmers they have an amazing capacity for enjoying themselves and working hard for a cause they believe in.
Headphones on, getting ready to rap
"They may not get out as much or around as fast as younger people, but their energy and motivation is an inspiration. They really have been the driving force - we're very proud of what's been achieved even if it hasn't been recorded at Abbey Road!"
BBC Radio Gloucestershire's John Rockley spoke to The Zimmers (the original group!) about their rise to stardom. To listen to the interview click below:
The mix of pensioners from Gloucester's white, African-Caribbean and Asian communities have done everything themselves from writing the lyrics to designing the CD cover, with the help of local charity Artshape.
The folk version is based on nursery rhyme Round The Mulberry Bush, Indian versions recorded in Bollywood style in both Hindi and Gujurati based on an Indian karaoke tune, and the black elders composed their own rap and reggae versions.
Anna's musician daughter Chloe, her music teacher Ann Pullin from Cirencester, and local multicultural musicians helped with each song's arrangement and it was all recorded at BBC Radio Gloucestershire's London Road studios with help from producer Simon Williams and station engineer Dave Bull.
So what's the next, er, step?
"Well, we are only district nurses and we don't know anything about mass-producing CDs or PR and promotion, so we desperately need help with that side of things," says Anna.
"We have a budget of less than £1,000 so we can only dream of having a publicity machine like the Zimmers. But you never know … if we can meet them some of the stardust might rub off!
In the BBC recording studio
"TV doctor Mark Porter has agreed to endorse the project and that is a real boost for us as we hope celebrity support will really help us realise the dream.
"Although this seems like a bit of fun, leg ulcers are a huge health problem which affect hundreds of thousands of people and cost the NHS more than £800 million a year to treat. We just want to play a part in reducing the massive suffering this condition inflicts."
The nurses asked Radio Gloucestershire to help find a catchy group name to help give their leg-care CD campaign the kick it needs to spread the message nationwide.
Listen to presenter Matt Peacock running through the suggestions on the BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast show:
Now the singers themselves have whittled the list down to their own three favourites and want YOU to help them decide on the best.
Tell us the name you think is best by using the form below or phone your choice to Anne or Lynn's office on 01452 389461 BEFORE 9am Monday June 25 - all you have to do is leave a message on the answerphone with your favourite of the three names above.
last updated: 21/06/07
Have Your Say
What should Gloucester's answer to the Zimmers be called - Safety Pins? Leg-acy? Or Legs of All Nations? NB: Votes must be in by Friday June 29 2007.
james age 10