“Where words fail music speaks”

It’s Wednesday morning and Humphrey Booth Resource Centre in Swinton is heaving with people eagerly anticipating an hour of music and sing-along. As soon as the resident guitarist, Brian begins strumming to help everyone warm up their vocal chords some people have jumped out of their seats and are twisting and shaking to the music.

Heather, a singer and entertainer, then takes everyone through an hour of stage classics including songs from My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The Sound of Music.

Singing with Dementia is a music group which helps memory-loss sufferers recall their happy past through the power of music. June Smith set up the group after her husband passed away and she recognised the need to support dementia sufferers and their carers. People with Down’s syndrome come to the group, because they have a specific vulnerability to developing Alzheimer’s disease, and people with mental health problems too.

There are no words for watching the eyes light up and the hands and fingers move of people who can no longer engage in conversation but can recognise a note or rhythm that triggers a happy memory lodged somewhere in their past.

The room is full of laughter, joy, song, dance and love. And it’s the happiest room I’ve been in for a long time.

June doesn’t ask anyone for a penny and has now raised enough money to cover a number of people’s taxis to and from the centre as they wouldn’t be able to leave their homes any other way.

77 people turned up to Singing with Dementia today and it’s growing and growing. June is in high demand as people from near and far keep getting in touch to ask for her advice about setting up a similar group near them. June is more than happy to help as, she says, “Life can be a nightmare for carers. They never complain. That’s why we do it. We provide a release valve. We give help, advice and support and we laugh and hope that it all helps.

“I hope that my husband would be proud of the end result.”

We know that he would be.

Tweet June – @swithdinsalford