Top Peterborough soprano reaches out to support Reception teacher with MS

Hazel Wildash with Gabriella Pineda-Rodrigues
Hazel Wildash with Gabriella Pineda-Rodrigues
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As a Year One teacher Hazel Wildash would have come across hundreds of children over the last 20 years, but she never forgot five-year-old Gabriella Pineda-Rodrigues.

Gabriella may have turned out to become a talented soprano who has performed for the Queen, but she too never forgot her former teacher at Newark Hill Primary in Eastfield Road, who she reconnected with on Facebook only to hear she was not well.

Hazel recalled: “She asked me how I was. I mentioned to her I had MS and she was really shocked and saddened by it. She straight away said ‘can I do a concert for you?’

“I just thought it was such a lovely thing to offer to do.”

Gabriella (25) and Hazel (61) have now formed a close friendship and remarkably even live on the same street - Derby Drive in Dogsthorpe.

Gabriella, who combines performing with teaching singing, said: “She was my Reception/Year One teacher. I remember she was so sweet.

“She is one of the most gentle, kind and calm people I have ever met.”

Gabriella has now raised thousands of pounds for the MS Society with a number of concerts, the latest at St John the Baptist church in Cathedral Square where she was watched by her former teacher.

Thinking back 20 years, Hazel, who now needs a wheelchair because of her condition, recalled: “I remember when I was teaching her one of my colleagues said Gabriella has an amazing voice, and that was at the age of five!

“She’s very generous, very kind and amazingly talented. I can’t speak highly enough of her.”