A Wellingborough choir for people living with dementia, and their carers, is preparing for its debut performance next month.
Ruth Bowe was inspired to set up the choir after watching BBC TV’s series Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure.
As the founder and chairman of Wellingborough Community Gospel Choir, Ruth sets out to bring her love of singing and expertise to the new choral therapy group.
Musical director Gareth Fuller agreed to lead the new Dementia Sings Out choir supported by members of the Wellingborough Gospel Community Choir who have privately financed the venture.
Since its launch at the start of July, the choir has engaged more than 30 people living with dementia and their carers all assisted by about 25 members of the gospel choir.
Ruth said: “I watched the programme and asked Gareth if we could do something similar. Many of the gospel choir members also saw the series and were inspired.
“Dementia touches so many people. My mother has just been diagnosed with vascular dementia and my father-in-law had Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our free choir sessions are open to anyone living with dementia, every Thursday morning for an hour of lively and interactive singing followed by refreshments and socialising amongst all the participants, carers and Wellingborough Community Gospel Choir members.”
Admiral Nurse Dave Bell, who cares for people living with dementia, said: “This choir shows amazing initiative and taps into the growing evidence around the benefits of music therapy for people with dementia.
“Music can be a powerful way to engage with people with dementia.
“When other avenues of communication have been lost, music can foster connections among a family facing the condition and can help the person with dementia express feelings and ideas, such as through a smile or even a dance.”
All the members of the Wellingborough Community Gospel Choir have had ‘Dementia Friend’ training to increase understanding of the condition.
The Dementia Sings Out Choir meets every Thursday, from 10.30am to midday, at the Everyday Champions Church in Haveleock Street, Wellingborough, for an hour of singing followed by refreshments.
Ruth added: “We have people who come along who can’t communicate - they hear the music and singing, start to smile and tap along.
“We have one couple, a lady who is living with dementia and her husband who come along.
“At the end of one song she asked if she could sing a solo which she did, her husband then out up his hand and asked if he could sing a duet with her.
“It was wonderful.”
“It’s so important that the carers are encouraged to take part, they also leave with smiles on their faces.
“Although the person might not remember having been at the session they have enjoyed their time - it’s so important to live for the moment.”
The Dementia Sings Out choir will be performing as part of the BBC Music Day on Thursday, September 26.
Wellingborough Community Gospel Choir will be performing at the bandstand at Rockingham Road Pleasure Park, Kettering on Sunday, August 18, at 3pm.
For more information, to become involved directly or to become a sponsor to secure the choir’s longer-term development please visit Wellingborough Community Gospel Choir on Facebook or email Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org.