Meet June & Hayley, mother and daughter who have been part of the Forget-me-not Chorus Cardiff North choir for many years.
Pre-pandemic Forget-me-not Chorus (FMNC) ran choirs throughout Wales in the community, care homes and hospitals. Believers in the power of song to make a real difference, throughout the last year the charity has continued to connect with the FMNC family. They’ve adapted, using a combination of virtual rehearsals, online films, bespoke song dedications, and outdoor interactive sessions. They have even included a session delivered through the medium of Welsh.
Then and now
FMNC often follows its participants on their journey and so reached out to connect with June who is resident at a Cardiff care home.
Before the pandemic, June’s daughter Hayley would collect her mother from the home and attend a Forget-me-not Chorus rehearsal every week. They joined together with over 50 choristers in the local community centre to sing, dance and have fun under the banner of the charity’s artistic director, Kate Woolveridge.
The sessions represent so much more than singing for people with dementia; the camaraderie, peer support and opportunities to work with professional musicians gave both Hayley and June a huge sense of pride in themselves. Together they have performed alongside professional musicians at Wales Millennium Centre and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
“Before Covid my Mum and I went to weekly singing sessions filled with fun,” explains Hayley. “Since Covid, FMNC has been doing zoom singing. These sessions mean I can still sing with mum. They are the only face to face contact we are able to have at the moment and are therefore even more special.”
Extending the programme
FMNC have responded to a very great need for people to connect and have created new communities despite the restrictions of being unable to hold live sessions or visits to care homes. The online sessions bring together care home residents from the North and South of Wales as well as Cornwall, connecting them to their families as they sing together via a video screen.
In fact, the charity has succeeded in extending its reach, now bringing joy to more than 200 care homes through online resources. Those caring for loved ones at home can also enjoy the sessions.
Each week over 100 choristers are welcomed to the community via weblink rehearsals from across the UK. Among them are June and Hayley, who are thrilled to be taking part, via Zoom, in the charity’s 10 year anniversary commission ‘With Joy My Soul Sings’.
As well as the online experiences, a series of outdoor interactive Forget-me-not sessions have allowed isolated care home residents to participate in live music from the safety of their window, balcony or garden whilst obeying all social distancing guidelines.
Fantastic feedback from these sessions confirm that they have provided a welcome focus for both the residents and staff. Jane, activities co-ordinator at June’s care home, said: “The engagement of the carers was amazing and uplifting. They joined in with the residents and shared their joy in music making, providing a positive experience for all.”
For more information on joining, visit www.forgetmenotchorus.com.