Dementia Choir Sings for its Supper

A Cleethorpes choir, which is supported by HMT St Hugh’s Hospital in Grimsby, is appealing for more volunteers so it can continue to help people living with dementia.


The Memory Lane Choir, run by North East Lincolnshire community group Friendship at Home, was inspired by the Musical Memories Choir in Swansea, which is funded by HMT Sancta Maria – sister hospital of HMT St Hugh’s.


The not-for-profit Healthcare Management Trust, which owns both hospitals, recently invested over £1.1m in 11 dementia PhD research projects and earlier in the year provided enough money to fund two new Friendship at Home staff members.


HMT St Hugh’s also paid for a laptop, projector and screen to make delivering Friendship at Home sessions easier as part of its commitment to providing practical and emotional support. However, additional help is needed from members of the public to keep the choir going.


Gary Allington, Health Promotion Officer at St Hugh’s, explained: “There is a lot of research into the health benefits of music among people with dementia, and when we heard about the Musical Memories Choir we thought it would be perfect for Friendship at Home to replicate.


“We brought Karen Hunter, who formed the choir in Swansea, up to Cleethorpes to deliver a taster session and meet the Friendship at Home team and we were all so touched by the response.


“It was from this that the Memory Lane Choir was born and it has proved to be extremely popular, but is run by a charity and therefore relies heavily on donations of time and money.”


The choir had been meeting at St Aiden’s Community Church in Cleethorpes every Wednesday morning since July but has now moved to the Annie Chapple Centre in the town on a Friday morning between 10am and 12 noon.


Led by local entertainer Joan Gorry and Support Worker Linda Thomas, the members sing much-loved songs from days gone by such as Que Sera Sera, Tulips from Amsterdam and The White Cliffs of Dover.


Joan, who volunteers her time free of charge, encourages everyone in the group to get involved in any way they can. She also performs to give people a chance to take to the dancefloor and show off their moves, or relax and enjoy some live entertainment.


She said: “It is an absolute pleasure to lead the Memory Lane Choir each week. I try to bring my 91-year-old mother along as often as possible and we both have a lot of fun.


“It is so rewarding to see the smiles on people’s faces and sometimes even a change in their behaviour; music is very special and often breathes new life into older people and those living with dementia.”


Friendship at Home currently supports more than 500 people across North East Lincolnshire thanks to the dedication of volunteers and staff.


If you can spare some time on a Friday morning to help out at the choir, or think you might be able to help out with other Friendship at Home activities, please contact Linda Thomas, Outreach Support Worker and Club Coordinator, by emailing: