A choir of stroke survivors from Cwmbran, New Inn and Newport are celebrating Christmas with their first ever concert.
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.
Choir member Vanessa Morley is a stroke survivor who also volunteers at the Cwmbran and Newport support groups. She explained: “I was in a choir for many years before my stroke so I love having the opportunity to sing again. My voice isn’t what it used to be but it’s improving the more we practise.
“I now consider it part of my recovery and it’s still exciting to look forward to with my fellow group members every week.”
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.
Alison Shone, Musical Director of the Strike a Chord choir, is thrilled to be involved with the project. She said: “I love working with all the choir members and the Stroke Association. It's such an honour to be a part of this project, singing is so healing.
“Everyone goes away from the sessions smiling after an hour of fun! This is what we are all about. Getting together on a Thursday and singing a wide variety of repertoire which everyone chooses. It's informal, welcoming and fun. There's no pressure and we all have a good time. I love it!'
Lucy Thomas, Community Development and Partnership Manager at Stroke Association Wales, said: “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, we’re hoping not only will our stroke group members join us 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 to 1:30pm.
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, call the Helpline on 0303 30 33 100 or visit www.stroke.org.uk.