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Don't take away our music'

PUBLISHED: 18:10 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:02 25 August 2010

Bromley
22-07-08
Ivor Newton House
Home for former Musicians under threat of closure

Bromley 22-07-08 Ivor Newton House Home for former Musicians under threat of closure

ELDERLY musicians living in a benevolent home fear their irreplaceable house could be taken from them.

ELDERLY musicians living in a benevolent home fear their "irreplaceable" house could be taken from them.

Residents of Ivor Newton House, in Edward Road, Bromley, are due to find out whether a consultation will lead the Musicians Benevolent Fund (MBF) to axe their home on August 5.

More than 15 retired musicians or their partners are threatened by the looming closure after the MBF announced it was being consulted on the home's future viability.

Leonard Davis, 94, formerly of Russell Close, Bexleyheath, slammed the MBF for acting in a "very devious and dishonest way".

He said: "At first we were told that closure was just a rumour, then they said it was just one of many options, and now it looks certain.

"The residents are devastated and some could suffer extreme trauma because they are already living in permanent confusion."

Ivor House is a dedicated house of music, decorated with pictures of composers and containing two pianos, including a Steinway grand, used for frequent recitals.

If it is closed as proposed in October 2009, the retired musicians, some nearing 100, would be moved to alternative accommodation lacking exclusive musical residence.

Mr Davis has headed up a fight against the potential decision to close the home.

The former lead viola in the Sadler's Wells orchestra is sending petitions against a closure of Ivor House to every orchestra in the country.

Meanwhile the Musicians Union is currently paying for research into whether there is a legal challenge to the home's possible closure.

The building was left by the late English Pianist Ivor Newton to house musicians in 1981. Despite the bequest, MBF bosses say residents cannot expect to be housed anywhere indefinitely as their care requirements are subject to change.

Mr Davis added: "They just thought we were a lot of old fogies in our 80s and 90s who would just go quietly.

"The residents came here with good reason to think they would be here for life. The owners knew they expected that.Many sold their homes because they wanted to spend their final years in this environment.The MBF should at least have the humanity to run Ivor House down and allow remaining residents to stay."

A spokesperson for MBF said closure was not taken lightly and that some residents welcomed the chance to move to alternative accommodation. She added: "If we have a building that is no longer a care home then we would have to dispose of it."

To oppose the closure, write to the Musicians Benevolent Fund, 16 Ogle Street, London, W1W 6JA.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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