Mabel and Molly bring music to patients, visitors and staff

Two specially commissioned pianos have been installed in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital as part of the NHS 70th anniversary.

The two acoustic pianos, ‘Mabel and Molly’, are now available for patients, visitors, staff and musicians to play and enjoy.

The pianos have been decorated in tandem as ‘twin sisters’ with a design inspired by two women with very distinctive true life stories.

Mabel is in memory of Mabel McKinley, a remarkable lady of the Dorcas society who saw the need for a cup of tea for outpatients waiting to be seen at clinics.

Mabel McKinley started a non-profit tea service five days a week in 1942. The ‘Mabel McKinley’ tearoom continues to provide tea, coffee and snacks at Glasgow Royal Infirmary today and ‘Mable’, the piano will be located near the tearoom in honour of Ms McKinley.

‘Molly’ is in honour of Henrietta Lacks, a black American woman who died in 1951 from cervical cancer. While her disease was a tragedy for her family, for the world of medical research – and beyond that, every one of us on the planet – it was something of a miracle.

Because, in the years since her death, Lacks's cells – taken from her tumour while she was undergoing surgery – have been responsible for some of the most important medical advances of all time.

Welcoming ‘Mabel, John Stuart, Interim Director, North Sector, explained: “The tearoom holds a very special place in the hearts of the staff and patients at the GRI, providing much needed respite from the workings of a busy hospital.

“We are supportive of the quest to bring music to public spaces and there is no better place to brighten up the atmosphere than here at the GRI.”

These pianos are part of a wider network of publicly available instruments citywide and expand the Piano Project’s long running connection with Glasgow hospitals that began with ‘Spot’ being installed at Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in 2014 and ‘Custard’ at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in 2015.

Molly is the second piano being installed at the QEUH. Since arriving in the QEUH atrium a year ago, ‘Fern’ has been played and enjoyed by hundreds of people.

The piano will now be moving to a new home at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

Glasgow Piano City Founder & Project Coordinator Tom Binns said: “These pianos are for people of all ages and abilities and are intended to support a greater permission to play being available in everyday life, and especially in hospitals, when we need opportunities to have a breather, digest our emotional dinner and enjoy moments of connection with ourselves and others.“