These reviews were published by The OMNIway - the newsletter of OMNI Health Care
Back to Seniors' Music page
January 2008

Burnbrae celebrates Burns Day

Residents at Burnbrae Gardens in Campbellford were treated to an early celebration of Robbie Burns Day on Jan. 16.

The day, which is traditionally celebrated on Jan. 25, featured entertainment from Rev. Ken Ramsden, who, dressed in a kilt and other traditional Scottish garb, came to the home from Peterborough to entertain residents with guitar and fiddle music, traditional Scottish songs with dancing, and, of course, the bagpipes.

Entertainer Rev. Ken Ramsden plays the fiddle for residents at Burnbrae Gardens on Jan. 16 during the home’s Robbie Burns Day celebration.

The day marks the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns, best known for his poems “A Red, Red Rose,” “The Battle of Sherramuir” and “Auld Lang Syne.”

More than 30 residents in the 43-bed home attended the event, says life enrichment co-ordinator April Anderson.

“The lounge was packed and he (Ramsden) was awesome,” she adds, noting that this was the first time the home had held celebrations for Robbie Burns Day.

Although some residents might drift off to sleep during some entertainment sessions, every one of the residents was captivated by Ramsden and his one-man show, Anderson adds.

“He was very good with the residents,” says Anderson. “He was right down to Earth with them, he was telling them jokes and they were laughing . . . the interaction was great.”

Ramsden brings his entertainment act to residents at more than 30 long-term care homes in the province, logging between 40,000 and 50,000 km per year in travel time. The multitalented Ramsden has also performed on The Tommy Hunter Show.

“I have been an actor and musician all my life, and find one of the best audiences to entertain are seniors,” says Ramsden. “The residents of Burnbrae are no exception. They
were happy, sang along with the songs, and rewarded me with polite applause after each number.”

After the hour-long show, residents made a point of approaching the reverend and thanking him for the entertainment.

Resident Charlotte Graydon, herself of Scottish descent, says she enjoyed the event — especially the songs. She also applauds the energy Ramsden has during his entertainment numbers.

“He was very good on his feet,” she says. “He was excellent. Oh, the Scottish and the Irish songs were (great).”

One thing noticeably missing at the Robbie Burns Day celebration was haggis, the traditional Scottish meal of chopped organ meat mixed with oatmeal and suet, then baked in a sheep’s stomach.

Graydon, however, says she didn’t mind the lack of haggis.

“It’s not one of my yearnings,” she laughs.


December 2008

Showman sees immediate benefits entertainment has on residents
Says entertaining at long-term care homes beneficial to residents and himself

Entertainer Ken Ramsden says when he brings his one-man show to long-term care homes he often sees immediate benefits to residents, ranging from a smile to someone joining in to sing along.

During some home visits, Ramsden says residents who seem unengaged in what’s going on will suddenly join in once he hits the stage and the power of music comes through.

“What you see right away are people who, when you arrived, seemed comatose coming alive through the singing of familiar lyrics,” says Ramsden.

“What I’ve found is that even if people can’t speak anymore, it seems that some of those people can still sing, so you know that you’ve made their day better. It surprises the heck out of staff and even some families to see someone singing.”

Furthermore, Ramsden says entertaining residents in long-term care homes has the value-added benefit of making him feel good about the work he does.

“It’s also gratifying for me because compared to, say, a rock audience in a tavern, the people in a (long-term care home) are of an era where it’s polite to clap and you get instant gratification for your show,” he says.

“It cheers me up to be singing with a whole group of people who are singing along.”

Ramsden says he’s also a believer in making the audience a part of his act. This means taking time to visit audience members personally and encourage them to join in on the performance.

Ramsden’s shows also include him taking time to share anecdotes and jokes to lighten the atmosphere. He also plays the Jew’s harp and harmonica to accompany his limberjack doll performance, a part of the act that’s a favourite with residents.

Limberjack dolls are wooden puppets with moving arms and legs which dance on a wooden paddle when controlled by the performer.

Janet McInroy, an activity aide at Burnbrae Gardens in Campbellford, a home where Ramsden has brought his act many times, says Ramsden has long been a hit with residents.

She attests to the positive impact his performances has on residents.

“He is not just a musician — he is truly an entertainer,” she says. “He has everybody laughing, singing and smiling. He just does a great job. He has everybody involved. The residents say nothing but good things after they leave and want to know when he can come back.”

If you would like to contact Ramsden for more information about his show, or to inquire about booking a visit, please e-mail revken(at)

January 2009

Residents at Riverview Manor were treated to Celtic folk music and haggis at this year's Robbie Burns Day celebration.

Riverview residents celebrate Robbie Burns Day
Afternoon gala a hit with residents and staff

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. - Residents at Riverview Manor were treated to a Robbie Burns Day celebration Jan. 27, complete with a bagpiper, traditional Celtic folk music and, of course, a wee taste of haggis.

The afternoon party proved to be a good time for residents at the Peterborough long-term care home. This was evidenced by their applause to performers Ken Ramsden and Bill Stirton. To keep in line with the theme of the day, both men wore traditional Scottish kilts.

“They put on a great show,” says resident Tom Curtin, who had his first taste of haggis — not an elusive three-legged animal found in the Highlands, as some mischievous Scots might have you believe, but rather a traditional meal of chopped organ meat mixed with oats and suet, then baked in a sheep’s stomach.

“It’s not bad,” says Curtin, after having a taste.

The day marks the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns, best known for his poems “A Red, Red Rose,” “The Battle of Sherramuir” and “Auld Lang Syne.”

Burns was born Jan. 25, 1759 in Alloway, Scotland, and people around the world have been celebrating the bard’s 250th birthday this week.

The event began with Tisha Gaudreau, the home’s nutritional care manager, presenting the haggis as Stirton played the bagpipes and Ramsden beat a drum. Ramsden then got things moving by reciting “Address to the Haggis,” a poem written by Burns, and one traditionally used at Burns Day celebrations.

The multi-talented Ramsden then led the crowd with songs on his guitar and violin, peppering the 30-plus residents, families and staff members with jokes in between numbers.

This was the first event Gaudreau organized with the life enrichment department, since starting her position in November. Gaudreau, who was elated with how well the day went, says residents looked forward to the celebration.

“It was the talk of the town for a few days,” she says.