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Paramedics help Victoria senior make sweet music with donated bow

Click to play video 'B.C. paramedics surprise 85-year-old violinist with new bow' B.C. paramedics surprise 85-year-old violinist with new bow
A team of paramedics decided to pay it forward after having their heartstrings pulled by an 85-year-old fiddler. After treating Wally Firth, they set out a mission to surprise the senior with a replacement bow for his prized instrument. Kylie Stanton has more on how his incredible stories - struck a chord. – Nov 18, 2020

It’s not often that a 911 call leads to sweet music, but that’s how things played out when one trio of Victoria paramedics went above and beyond to help a local senior play his best.

Daron McDonald, another paramedic and a trainee were called to the Glenshiel Seniors’ Residence in September, where one of the residents had suffered a fall.

Read more: Children and seniors in Toronto make music together

That’s where they met Wally Firth, a former member of parliament for the Northwest Territories, pilot, broadcaster and Indigenous advocate, who’s now living out his retirement on the West Coast.

The 85-year-old is also an avid violin player.

“Music is a moral law,” Firth told Global News. “It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, a flight to the imagination and a charm to sadness.”

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N.B. music teacher creates student concert for isolated seniors – Mar 25, 2020

It turned out Firth had fallen when he’d dropped his bow, leading to the emergency call.

“So we picked it up, and right away after having just this weird connection with him, I just had to ask him to play his violin for us,” McDonald told Global News on Wednesday.

“But the odd thing was, after every time he’d finish he kept apologizing, he’d say, ‘I’m so sorry I can’t play to the best of my ability because of the quality of my bow.'”

The paramedics left, but when McDonald got home he couldn’t shake the experience.

Read more: Coronavirus — Bringing seniors out of isolation and fostering connection through free online dance classes

So he posted to Facebook asking if there was anyone who might be able to donate a bow to Firth.

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A few days later, McDonald got a message from someone he’d never met offering up the gear.

The donation came through Long & McQuade. David Symons, an educational sales representative with the music supplier, knew exactly who McDonald was talking about.

“He’s been very generous both to the schools in Victoria area, the students, and also he buys a lot of instruments to send up north, where he’s from, to the children up there,” Symons said.

Click to play video 'Children and seniors in Toronto make music together' Children and seniors in Toronto make music together
Children and seniors in Toronto make music together – Nov 19, 2018

A few days later, McDonald and a group of colleagues were back at Glenshiel with the surprise.

Read more: ‘Hopefully we can just cheer them up’ — classical singers perform from street for Vernon seniors

“(The) paramedics came and presented me with the bow — that was a great day for me,” Firth said.

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“Amazing, truly amazing. I keep using that word, but it’s all I can think of.”

McDonald described Firth as a little “taken aback” by the gesture, but said it left him smiling ear to ear.

Then they had a chance to listen to him play.

“I don’t think he’s the kind of gentleman who is used to receiving as much as he is giving,” he said.

“So it was really neat for us just to sit and take the time and chat with him and explain why we felt so compelled to give back to him in particular.”