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At U.K. Care Home, Residents Brilliantly Re-Create Iconic Album Covers On Twitter

Residents at the Sydmar Lodge Care Home in Edgeware, England, have been in lockdown for four months.

As activities manager at the home, Robert Speker wanted to keep spirits up while visitors and outside entertainment aren't permitted.

Thus, a brilliant project was born: re-creating classic album covers with residents cast as the rock stars.

Speker tweetedside-by-side photos of the original covers and the Sydmar Lodge residents' new takes, and the tweets quickly took off.

Instead of British singer Adele, meet 93-year-old Vera.

Riffing on Springsteen's famous Born In The U.S.A., there's a blue-jeaned Martin Steinberg in front of the English flag.

Could anyone improve upon David Bowie's iconic lightning-bolt painted face? Roma Cohen appears to be an icon herself with the lightning bolt highlighted by her white hair.

There's Toba David as Michael Jackson, tough in a leather jacket.

And Sheila Solomon as a Sydmar Lodge punk, reinventing The Clash's guitar-smashing with a walking cane ready to come crashing down.

Staffers got in on the project, too, with four carers lit from below looking every bit as moody as Queen.

"I made the suggestions of which albums and which resident best suited the look, or had a vague similarity to the artist," Speker explained on Twitter. "Then I proposed the idea to each resident. Gladly all of them were enthused and perhaps a bit bemused by the idea, but happy to participate."

He says he did the residents' makeup, drew their tattoos, and did the photography and editing. A care home manager helped with hair and makeup touch-ups.

Speker, who began working at Sydmar Lodge in 2015, has won accolades for his inventiveness before. "Robert continues to astound us with his creative, and somewhat 'out of the box' ideas," Sydmar Lodge Manager Julie Davey testifies on the home's website.

Noting that Speker had won an activities coordinator award, Sydmar Lodge notes that he "performs his activities with creativeness, ingenuity, individuality and originality" and recently took a resident swimming for the first time in 20 years.

These have been bleak times at some care homes in the U.K. Among residents at nursing homes in England and Wales from Dec. 28, 2019, to June 12, 2020, there were nearly 30,000 more deaths than during the same period last year.

"As this situation is on-going it could be months before the situation changes for them and the need to keep them happy entertained and full of spirit has never been more crucial," Speker wrote on a GoFundMe page he created to support the care home.

"Elderly people will remain in lockdown for a long time," he wrote, "and I want to make their time as happy and full of enjoyment and interest as possible."

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Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.