By Tony Davey, Cultural Spring Community Champion

In 2000, I retired from a working life in Yorkshire. I moved to the North East to be closer to my wife’s family. I looked forward to retirement but before long I realised that I had no retirement plan and that my life was boring. I needed something to pass the time and remembered I always wanted to learn to play an instrument but which one should I choose? Too old to be a rock star, fingers not dexterous enough for the piano, didn’t fancy the saxophone. I then saw an advertisement for beginner ukulele playing. I joined a beginners group and have remained a ukulele player ever since.

My first ukulele group was at the Customs House in South Shields and I tried a few others as I gained experience. I started performing at concerts and my skills continued to improve. Costs were low, instruments were cheaply available, tuition was free, friendships were made and I was no longer a stranger in a new area. I was out of the house more and more. I then became associated with Cultural Spring who supported a ukulele group I was involved with. With their help, I had more involvement with my chosen hobby. Concerts are now common-place and I have involved myself in new ventures within the Arts in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

With assistance from Cultural Spring, I then moved from playing ukulele in a performing band and began teaching others to play. I have started 3 local ukulele groups all of which are still functioning, are free for the participants and assist a lot of people like myself who were bored with retirement and were keen to learn to play an instrument. All the groups are progressing well.

My decision to learn to play the ukulele has been a very positive one and has given me a lot of enjoyment and purpose. One thing about ukulele playing and players is that everyone involved is always happy and smiling. The songs and meetings are always fun and I cannot thank Cultural Spring enough for the support I have received, freely and always with a smile. If you are looking for an interesting hobby get in touch and make me even happier by letting me with support from Cultural Spring introduce you to a life-long friend, a ukulele.

Have you taken part in one of our workshops, commissions or other projects? Would you like to tell others about your Cultural Spring experience?

We’re looking for people who have engaged with our programme to write short blogs for our website, newsletters and social media pages which will let people know about your very own Cultural Spring journey. Interested? For more information please email

If you would like to contact Tony please email