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Home News and media centre News Kamahl lights up Christmas in July with record audience

Kamahl lights up Christmas in July with record audience

An estimated 30,000 people to date have tuned in to watch Kamahl’s Christmas in July performance.

Residents broke out the tinsel in aged care homes from Silverchain Centre in Western Australia to Moonee Valley Friendship Club in Victoria and Regis in Tasmania.

Kamahl’s golden voice even drew viewers from as far afield as New Zealand and Holland.

The OPAN event, in front of an exclusive live studio audience in Sydney, was a celebration of active ageing and a chance to reminisce through story and song.

Kamahl’s set began with a heartfelt story and dedication to 102-year-old Hazel Orson, who spent time as his wardrobe mistress. She, along with other residents in her care home in Victoria had a festive celebration with roast and all the trimmings. A representative shared that Hazel was overwhelmed by his acknowledgement and song ‘All I have to offer you is me’.

Credit: Tallangatta Health Service

The hour quickly passed by with festive Christmas songs, poems, stories, as well as some of his best-known songs like ‘The Elephant song’ and ‘My way’.

At 87, Kamahl says, “You only retire from things that you don’t like doing.”

And it was clear to see that he still very much enjoys being on stage. With each song he offered a piece of his life and history, an intimate conversation for the many people who grew up listening to his songs. He beautifully recited a heartfelt poem that he had even shared with Sir Donald Bradman.

The town I live in, the friends that I have found, the 
people who just came here from nations all around.
Those who built this country,
the air of feeling free and the right to speak your own mind.
That’s Australia to me.

Kamahl wasn’t the only older person on show. OPAN’s CEO, Craig Gear OAM, who hosted the event spoke to a few special guests in the live audience including Val Fell OAM, a prolific member of OPAN’s National Older Persons Reference Group and the Council of Elders. Last month she received the Medal of the Order of Australia for her dedicated service for people living with dementia.

Val was joined by Charles Linsell, another member of the National Older Persons Reference Group who spoke passionately about the importance of freedom and choice in aged care.

Danjiela Hlis, also a member of the National Older Persons Reference Group and Council of Elders joined via video stream. She explained that active ageing for her involves giving back to the community. Danjiela volunteers as a bicultural support worker for people who live with dementia and revert to their mother tongue.

Chris McCabe, an aged care advocate with OPAN’s New South Wales member organisation Seniors Rights Service summed up what an advocate can do to support an older person working in conjunction with them; “In the first instance, I listen to you and hear what you’ve got to say. Then, we’ll try together to tease out what the issues might be. And we’ll come up with a bit of a plan going forward.”

The winner of our ‘Most festive viewing party photo’ is Epping Meadows Care Community in Victoria.

Honourable mentions go to Agris Hutrof House in New South Wales and Tallangatta Health Service in Victoria for their creative and festive photos.

If you missed the glitzy show, you can replay it now.

This post was originally posted on 15 July 2022 and updated on 21 July 2022.