The new harp making sweet sounds at Neringah Hospital

Patients confronting life-limiting illnesses at Neringah Hospital, Wahroonga are finding pleasure in the soothing sounds of a harp purchased with funds raised by the hospital’s dedicated volunteers.

The Reverie Harp, handmade in Victoria by Peter Roberts, was purchased with more than $1,000 raised through glass bottle refunds and donations from friends and loved ones who support the hospital.

Neringah Hospital, operated by independent Christian charity HammondCare, provides high quality inpatient and outpatient palliative care services through a multidisciplinary approach that explores all treatment options to provide better outcomes for patients.

Helen Hollingsworth and a small group of other Neringah volunteers oversaw fundraising for the harp in honour of her friend and St Ives resident Mary Smith, a much-loved former Head of Mathematics at nearby Abbotsleigh school who passed away suddenly last year.

“Mary loved music,” Mrs Hollingsworth said. “I had seen the harp at a palliative care conference two years ago and just knew it would be a perfect fit for Neringah and a lasting, meaningful give in Mary’s memory.”
The harp, which will have a small plaque attached honouring Mrs Smith’s memory, was handed to the hospital in May at a morning tea even where, appropriately, an Abbotsleigh Junior School string ensemble performed.

Neringah Palliative Care Unit Medical Director Sarah Thompson said the harp would enhance the hospital’s commitment to symptom management and holistic care. Dr Thompson is keen to ensure the North Shore community is aware of the high quality of care available at Neringah.

“Music is very powerful and it can be a universal language of love, joy and peace across all cultures,” Dr Thompson said. “It can also bring back memories of happy times and help patients stay connected to themselves.”

Diversional therapist Hanna Tsoi, who is also a musicianplays the harp for patients as part of her role to maximise quality of life for patients. She said the instrument was so simple to play patients can quickly learn to play.

“Playing the harp for a patient facing a serious illness might seem a small thing but it can provide enormous benefits. The sound can be very comforting and calming for them,” she said.