The choir of stroke survivors from Cwmbran, New Inn and Newport celebrated Christmas with their first ever concert on Monday 14 December.
Stroke Association, in partnership with Head for Arts and supported by Arts Council Wales, has brought the choir together, which is made up of people who have been affected by stroke, their families and carers.
As a result of their strokes, several members of the choir have aphasia, which affects the ability to speak, read, and understand and often leads to people feeling isolated and losing confidence. Yet because melody and rhythm are controlled by a different part of the brain, many people with aphasia are still able to sing.
The sold-out Christmas concert comes almost 18 months after the choir first formed. Although several members had previously been in choirs, many hadn’t, but all have taken great pleasure in discovering their talents post-stroke.
The choir performed some classic carols and holiday favourites such as White Christmas, Joy to the World, Jingle Bells and Silent Night, to name just a few. All were in fantastic voice and the audience were soon joining in.
Lucy Thomas, Community Development and Partnership Manager at Stroke Association Wales, said; “There wasn't a dry eye in the hall by the end of the evening. The community really came out in high spirits ready to enjoy and cheer the choir's biggest performance to date. Bob, Gwyn, Vanessa and Janet performed beautiful solos and the choir as a whole really impressed. They've come such a long way since we first formed in 2014.
"We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped us raise £1,342, which will go towards keeping the choir running into 2016. We'd also like to thank Alison Shone, the choir's Musical Director, who teaches the choir every week, Ryan Wood, for volunteering as accompanist for the evening, and everyone else who volunteered their time and effort to make the concert possible.
"In Wales over 7,000 people have a stroke each year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. As stroke can affect the whole family, the choir is not only open to our stroke group members but also their family, friends and carers. It really is open to all in the stroke community and we hope that people will discover a new talent or rediscover an old one. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an expert, it will be fun and friendly for all involved.”
The choir meets at Hollybush and Coed Eva Community Hall every Thursday from 12:30 – 13:30.
To find out more about the choir please contact Lucy Thomas on 02920 524400 or email Lucy.Thomas@Stroke.org.uk. For more information about stroke, ring the Helpline on 0303 30 33 100 or visit www.stroke.org.uk.