Wellingborough dementia choir's first Christmas celebration

A Wellingborough choir for people living with dementia has celebrated Christmas with a fancy dress seasonal sing-song.

By Alison Bagley
Thursday, 19th December 2019, 4:45 pm

Dementia Sings Out, an off-shoot of Wellingborough Community Gospel Choir, was formed in July and in five months the free-to-join group has been awarded charity status and managed to secure funding for the next two years.

More than 130 guests attended the Christmas party including people living with dementia, their carers and family members, and volunteer 'dementia friends', at the Everyday Champions Church in Havelock Street, Wellingborough.

Founder Ruth Bowe said: "I'm just overwhelmed. The atmosphere is fantastic and the joy is tangible not just for the people living with dementia but for the carers too.

Dementia Sings Out

Musical director Gareth Fulller led the choir in a series of uplifting songs and traditional Christmas carols.

Glenda Griffin travels from Seagrave House Care Home in Corby, to the weekly singing session.

The 82-year-old said: "I really look forward to it. It makes me feel happier and I really enjoy it."

Volunteer helper and dementia friend, Gill Snelson said: "The difference it makes is amazing. One of the ladies I help smiled for the first time today and Glenda's really blossomed. She sings away and her movement has really improved."

Rachel Bentley, Violet Smith and Anne Bentley

The singers have been filmed by Anglia TV to showcase the choir's performance of Mary's Boy Child, the Harry Belafonte- Boney M Christmas classic.

Dementia Sings Out is open to anyone living with dementia, whether they are living independently or resident in local care homes.

Violet Smith, 93, has been coming to the sessions from her residential home in Cliftonville, Northampton helped by mother and daughter carers Anne and Rachel Bentley - today dressed as an elf and a Christmas present respectively, for the occasion.

Anne said: "Violet loves coming and singing. We've seen a real change. You can put a song on and they will know it and all the words but they might not know what they had for breakfast."

Singing along

Julia Richardson brings her mum , 94-year-old June Wills, who was diagnosed with dementia five years ago, to the Dementia Sings Out sessions every week.

Julia said: "Today I was trying to point to each word on the song sheet but I noticed that she was singing along and knew the words to the Christmas carols.

"I've had a wonderful time and although mum won't remember what she's done, she'll know she's had a lovely day."

The free choir sessions are held every Thursday morning for an hour followed by refreshments and social time.

Glenda Griffin sings a solo encouraged by Gill Snelson

Ruth Bowe added: "I would like to thank all of the choir's trustees, gospel choir members, Gareth Fuller, and the Everyday Champions Church for their support.

"Now funding is secure for the next two years we will be looking to keep going forward. We will be looking to go into partnership with a taxi company, that can transport wheelchairs, so we can get even more people here."

You can see the choir in action on Anglia TV on Friday, December 20 at 6pm and on Monday, December 23 also at 6pm.

To find out more about the choir click here.

Christmas cheer
Founder Ruth Bowe joining in