Marilyn’s story

Looking across at his wife Marilyn, Chris Mercer sees her smile. They’re sharing a Music in Hospitals & Care live music experience at Holy Cross Hospital in Surrey, where Marilyn lives at the moment, and Chris used to visit every single day.

“Marilyn had an accident which left her with brain damage and she has relatively low awareness and is often asleep,” says Chris. “But when there’s good live music going on, she reacts to it. She is more awake and it makes a big difference to her wellbeing.”


The live music Chris is describing was in early 2020 – pre-pandemic. Before Covid-19, every other Friday, a Music in Hospitals & Care musician would visit Holy Cross Hospital. The live music means a lot to the patients and their families.

“Marilyn used to sing in a choir. Music has always been part of her life,” says Chris. “Listening to live music together, you feel uplifted.”

The difference live music makes

When restrictions meant Music in Hospitals & Care musicians couldn’t visit Holy Cross Hospital anymore, they shared live music experiences with Marilyn, and other patients, through a huge video screen in the activities room.

Charles Marriott is a Patient Activities Coordinator at Holy Cross Hospital. He says it has been a blessing to have the online live music at a very difficult time when relatives like Chris were unable to visit their loved ones. But he thinks there’s nothing like in-person live music for connecting with people in low states of awareness, like Marilyn.

“While it’s wonderful to be part of Music in Hospitals and Care’s live music on the screen, you can’t really put into words how in-person live music connects with people,” says Charles.

“It’s a lived experience. It’s the physical live sound of the cello or the piano or drums resonating through the air. That’s precious beyond words. It’s such a nice focus for our staff and relatives, like Chris, to come and be with somebody they love. He can see how Marilyn really focuses on the music.”


Our professional musicians have been back at Holy Cross Hospital twice a month since April 2021. Charles is looking forward to sharing more live music experiences with Marilyn and the other people at the hospital, and their families, as Covid-19 restrictions ease.

Chris thinks that going #BackToLive will provide more special moments for people like him and Marilyn. “Live music is so much better,” he says. “I like being able to look at the performer and see what they’re doing with their fingers, or whatever they’re playing the instrument with, and how they move with the music. You feel you’ve shared an experience with everyone in the room. I shared an experience with Marilyn.”

It’s been tough keeping live music on pause for so long. It’s critical that we get #BackToLive so we can reach more children and adults through the healing power of live music to improve their health and wellbeing. Find out more about how you can help.

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