‘Sing us a song, you’re piano gran’ — Sylvia’s living room concerts raise cash for charity

An Angus grandmother will not let old age or injury stop her from tickling the ivories to raise charity cash.

Sylvia Knox, 86, has performed three piano recitals, with tea and cakes provided, to an audience of friends at her Letham home.

© DC Thomson
Sylvia Knox playing at home.

Her fundraising recitals consist of favourites by Scarlatti, Schubert and Chopin despite arthritic fingers and a broken wrist following a fall only a couple of months before.

She has raised more than £750 for Medical Detection Dogs, a little-known charity which, in association with the Open University, harnesses canine sense of smell to detect cancer at an early stage.

Although she has been a piano teacher herself Mrs Knox also travels regularly to Aberdeen for advanced lessons with well-known Scottish pianist Joseph Long.

“I think you are never too old to improve and I think I am playing better now than ever,” she said.

“I feel that now I have time to practice I can feel that I am aiming higher and trying to conquer technical difficulties that I wasn’t able to do before.

“Joseph has given me a real confidence boost and I’m enjoying playing more than ever and I feel I can still learn more.”

Sylvia is raising much-needed funds for the charity.

Mrs Knox, whose late husband was a minister in Newtyle, grew up in a musical family and started playing at a young age.

She said she was lucky the wrist injury was not a serious break and she is playing again after resting and doing recommended exercises.

Mrs Knox suffers from arthritis in her fingers but overcomes this with piano scales exercises.

“I’ve got this gift and I have to use it,” she said.

As well as being a talented pianist and church organist, Mrs Knox is an art lover, enjoys reading, travel, tending her garden and baking.

She has recently also found time for prison visiting.

Mrs Knox, whose late husband died of cancer, decided to raise money for Medical Detection Dogs after finding out about its life-saving work.

Medical Detection Dogs trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease.

It is at the forefront of the research into the fight against cancer and helping people with life-threatening diseases.

Bio-Detection Dogs are trained to find the odour of diseases, such as cancer, in samples such as urine, breath and swabs.

Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are trained to detect minute changes in an individual’s personal odour triggered by their disease and alert them to an impending medical event.

The charity receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of donations from trusts and the public.