By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Singer and keyboardist Neville Fernandez needs little prompting to entertain his co-residents.
His weekly singalongs have earned him the name ‘Happy Hour King’ at Arcare Keysborough aged care home.
The ex-civil engineer is also state finalist in an inaugural national talent quest held by the Arcare aged-care home group.
He will be in the running for the $250 national title as well as a state prize and the CEO’s Choice award.
Mr Fernandez has routinely taken to the microphone in times of need. He brightened the home’s dreary days of Covid lockdown.
He also came to the rescue when guest entertainers needed a singer for Ceylon Biala at a Sri Lankan party.
“Neville stepped up and performed; the staff were dressed up and it was like a wild dance party erupted,” an Arcare spokesperson said.
“It was a magical moment.”
Mr Fernandez, who is daily visited by his wife who lives nearby, was a former choir master at St Anthony’s Church in Noble Park.
The 20-strong choir would perform at church and weddings.
“I fondly remember how at Christmas the whole choir would travel in the bus to different venues.”
His singing and piano-playing were first nurtured by his father, who was choir master at Mater Dolorosa Church in Madras, India.
He took piano exams in front of assessors from Trinity College in London. The certificates would be later mailed to his Madras home from England.
“My father always taught me that singing is not just for your own enjoyment but also to make others happy.
“I enjoy bringing joy to the community.”
The Talent Quest prizes will be decided by a public vote on Arcare’s social media. Voting closes on 20 May.
To vote for Mr Fernandez, go to https://www.instagram.com/arcaretalentquest/