Singing for the soul

Tanya Cox, Marketing Officer at INTO University of Gloucestershire, took a day away from the office to volunteer at a local day centre providing day care for clients suffering with Dementia, Alzheimer’s or loneliness

Singing for the soul

11 Sep 2018

''St Mary’s Day Centre in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, is a community charity, that runs twice a week, every Wednesday and Friday - Clients are provided with home cooked meals, entertainment and exercises, all within a safe and comfortable environment. This allows carers and families to have some respite to relax and catch up.

In my spare time, I sing as part of an acoustic duo group called 10th Avenue, and we play well-known music from across the decades.

I am originally from Tetbury and I have a family member who works at St Mary’s Day Centre, so it made perfect sense to perform our music at the Day Centre as their entertainment. An even better idea was to combine it with an INTO volunteering day!

After liaising with the St Mary’s Day Centre, we decided to set a date for Friday 24th August.

There was a lot of preparation to do before the volunteering day. We asked the clients at the St Mary’s Day Centre to suggest a few songs which they would like us to sing. We then spent several weeks rehearsing these songs along with many others, which we normally perform. We also produced sing along sheets for the clients so that they could join in and sing along with us on the day.

On the day, I arrived early with my band member; we set up our equipment and waited for the two buses of clients to arrive. We helped serve tea and coffee, and joined in with their weekly exercises, which help the clients gently, stretch and move. Once everyone had a song sheet, and was ready to clap and stamp their feet, we then started performing.

We played and sang music for almost an hour before lunchtime. My favourite song was ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond; everyone sang along, clapped their hands, and tapped their tables, even the staff got involved! We then finished this set with a wartime classic ‘roll out the barrel’.

After lunch, we helped to wipe down the tables and clear away, ready for the clients to sit, relax and listen to music again. One of the clients had expressed that they would like to come up to the microphone and sing some Elvis, so we got him involved. Everyone cheered and clapped, and he was so happy to be able to sing to an audience, which is something he had not experienced for a long time. We continued with everyone singing along to songs such as ‘Delilah’ by Tom Jones, and ‘We’ll meet again’ by Vera Lynn. We repeated ‘Sweet Caroline’ as so many enjoyed it first time around. Clients then had the opportunity to request songs. After finding the words and music on our mobile phones, we played ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Que Sera Sera (whatever will be, will be)’ and ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’.

The afternoon finished at 3pm, and many clients came to thank us for the entertainment. We then helped to tidy the room before leaving. It was such a rewarding experience. I really enjoyed meeting the people there, who are all very different with stories to tell. It was a pleasure to bring smiles to their faces and provide them with something different to their usual Friday at the St Mary’s Day Centre. They have asked us to perform there again, which I am really looking forward to – Watch this space for Christmas sing along at St Mary's Day Centre!''


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