Meet Terry Wilkins, Renaissance’s Ukulele playing owner
19 November 2020
Many of our owners across our communities have many talents, but we think that Terry Wilkins at our Wokingham community might be our only owner to play the Ukulele.
Following his retirement, Terry helped, as a volunteer, to develop the Police Support Volunteer scheme at Thames Valley Police, before being asked to support other forces nationally, which resulted in the Queen presenting him with an OBE in 2012 for services to policing.
Since then, Terry has been appointed as the Citizen’s in Policing Ambassador for Thames Valley Police and more lately he has learned to play the Ukulele and recently put on a gig for our other owners at Wokingham.
Hi Terry, can you tell us a bit about the Ukulele Group and how it was established?
Coming out of the first lockdown I wanted an event to pull the community together again so I formed a band specifically to play at Renaissance, Wokingham. I contacted four of my ukulele playing friends and they kindly agreed to join me and entertain our owners in the garden. We penned the name Four to the Fore as it seemed appropriate given we were just coming out isolation. I thought it would be a one off performance, but the gig was so enjoyable we decided we should stay together.
Since then the group has grown and we now have seven regular members. Two of the players also dabble with the harmonica and keyboard, which provides the opportunity for greater scope and creativity. We struggled with a new name, and after considerable thought we changed the name of the group to ‘Seven to the Fore’ or shortened for the tee shirt, 7tt4! Creative or what. Where will it end?
Since that first gig we have again played at Wokingham and also at Fleur-De-Lis, Hartley Wintney and Sandhurst and in 2022 we intend to expand our horizons.
How long have you been playing and how many gigs and shows do you usually perform?
I’m a rhythm player and harmonist – in other words I am supporting the leads. I’ve been playing for three years now and in addition to seven to the Fore, I also play in three other groups. Before the lockdown we would regularly perform in and around the area in such places as care homes, charitable organisations and institutions. My favourite gig was with one hundred other ukulele players in the middle of Reading, outside Marks and Spencer. That day we raised over £800 for a local charity.
Performing live provides a real buzz. Being a bit of an extrovert, it satisfies my nature and the ukulele always brings joy to the audience. Occasionally, the Wokingham owners allow me to lead them in a selection of sing-along songs. It’s pure joy to see my lovely neighbours happily joining in.
Why did I learn the ukulele? On a whim. I’ve always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument but never got round to it. Then I saw a fantastic ukulele group play at the Wokingham beer festival and produce an awe inspiring rendition ‘Skyfall’. Duly inspired, I then bought a small soprano ukulele . It was a good choice because the ukulele is rumoured to be the easiest string instrument to learn – especially for older people. It’s small, light and only has four strings! I now have six different ukulele configurations including a banjolele…you’ve guessed it, a cross between a ukulele and banjo.
What your favourite thing about living in Wokingham?
I love how accessible it is to get into town, we can walk everywhere we want in 15 minutes so it’s great to not be reliant on a car. We’re also so close to major motorways, should we want to explore other places across the UK.
Have you got any top tips for the local area?
There are some very good restaurants in Wokingham and great places to get a good cup of coffee, I’d highly recommend Gail’s Bakery.
We go walking most days and there are some really lovely routes to explore, one of which is just down the road.
What is the sense of community like at Renaissance Wokingham?
The spirit and socialising here is absolute fantastic and I’ve loved becoming part of this new community – the Four to the Fore performance was a way of getting everyone back together again after the lockdown and enjoying ourselves again as we have always done.
If you’re interested in moving to a new home with a strong sense of community, then look no further than Renaissance Wokingham. With just a few homes remaining, get in touch with our sales team today on 01183 150 808 or email [email protected]