Gentoo prove Seniors really do have Talent

To celebrate International Day of Older Persons, social business Gentoo Group held their very first ‘Seniors Got Talent’ event at Sunderland’s Bede Tower.

Eleven talented acts, aged 60 to 95, got their tap-dancing shoes out, dusted off their joke books and sang some classics, as they competed for the first ever Seniors Got Talent trophy.

Acts included Millie’s Tappers, a tap-dancing group aged 60-82 and 87 year old comedian Don Beston. Asked where would be his ideal place to perform, Don said it would be a toss-up between London’s West End and the Sunderland Empire - so watch this space!

One of the judges with the tough job of choosing a winner was ‘Horrible Histories’ author and actor Terry Deary. Terry said: “I’ve been looking for commitment today, not just people going through the motions and doing it for the money like some young singers in nightclubs do.

“I think this contest is a fabulous idea, I wish every town would have a Seniors Got Talent because seniors do have talent. But because they may not be as pretty as younger performers they don’t get the same chances.”

All the acts were buzzing with energy, as Nancy Hetherington, a former nurse who turns 95 this week, took to the stage to sing. Nancy said: “I hope I inspire people to try something new because I like to think I’m inspired by people who are full of life. When I was a girl I used to make up songs to sing my two sisters to sleep. We all shared one bed! It’s nice to bring back memories.”

By 2020, half of the UK population will be aged 50 or over as people have a better quality of living, which means longer lives. International Day of Older Persons celebrates what older people bring to the local community and the input older people have in our society.  

Michelle Meldrum, Managing Director, Gentoo Operations said: “Today is International Day of Older Persons so what better opportunity for us at Gentoo to raise awareness and appreciate the contributions older people make to society.

“Today we’re celebrating what older people bring to our local community and this afternoon we have been entertained by people from across our City who have come together to show seniors really do have talent.”

Millies tappers took the top spot. Ken Payne, 61, a guitarist with Alzheimer’s disease, was crowned in second place while Simply Tap, a tap dancing group aged 60-72, came third.

Gentoo believe in enabling people to achieve their aspirations and live the life that they choose. The Group recognises that as people get older, many will require additional help and support to maintain independence in day to day life, and therefore offer support to older people to remain independent in their homes, for as long as possible.

Support is offered to Sunderland City residents aged 65 and over via Gentoo’s Wellbeing Team. In conjunction with City partners, the team delivers a needs based service which may be for as little as a few months or until a person’s individual needs are met. If you know of anyone who may benefit from support to stay at home contact Gentoo Group on 0191 525 5000 or email