CD recorded by singers with dementia

Words and photo by Dave Barry 

A CD recorded by singers with dementia was launched at a free concert in Scarborough.

The Singing for the Brain choir, for people with dementia and carers, performed songs from the Musical Memories CD at South Cliff Methodist Church.

About 120 copies of the CD were sold at the concert, says Gail Hartley, who leads the 50-strong group, and who had the idea for the disc.

Paul Nash of Scarborough Tec offered to record it and Bill Mustoe produced 400 copies at cost and did the artwork for the cover.

By chance, Gail asked the Rotary Club of Scarborough Cavaliers for funding just after it was given 500 euros by the Rotary Club of Aalten-Wisch in the Netherlands. The two clubs have been friendly for years.

The Cavaliers topped the sum up to £600, which was what Gail needed to finance the CD.

Group members are excited and proud of the CD and love attending the weekly group.  One carer said: “I haven’t heard my mum speak properly for a couple of months, but she sings every word at the group, leaving me stunned!”

Gail adds: “Listening to the group, I felt I needed to share the joy of their singing and wanted others to hear what they have achieved. I really wanted their friends and family as well as the general public to share this wonderful experience”.

Singing for the Brain, established by Scarborough Alzheimer’s Society (SAS) in 2012, is led by volunteers. They facilitate group sessions for people with dementia who can attend either alone or with carers.

Based on the principles of music therapy and singing, the sessions promote social interaction and active participation. They are at the church hall on Wednesdays, from 1.30-3pm.

Equally important elements are a large dose of laughter and fun as well as plenty of tea and cake.

SAS services manager Louise Morgan says: “Gail Hartley, Denise Kemp, Adele Longstaff, Janet Wharrior, Joan Roue, Anne Richardson, Nancy Taylor and Tim Kirkup are the heart and soul of this fabulous group”.

Louise says the choir’s meetings are the highlight of the week for a lot of people affected by dementia.

The concert also featured the Village Voices choir.

The CD costs £5 and can be bought by ringing the Alzheimer's office on 583998 or Gail Hartley on 863434.