Tag Archives: choir

Giving something back

23567358210_2327dd548d_mAs we counted down the days to Christmas within the confines of GOSH last year, one of the seasonal highlights for both M and me was the carol-singers that we encountered during our stay. Hearing the gentle strains of familiar carols outside the main entrance, within the beautiful chapel and along the hospital corridors helped us feel a part of the excitement building in the outside world, even though M was ward-bound for so much of the time. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Carols by Candlelight service at St. George’s Holborn, a church just across the road from the hospital itself 23104290053_5ffd34741a_zand M, Mike and I had great fun another evening joining the choir from All Souls Church, Langham Place as they sang their way around GOSH, serenading patients with their cheerful Christmas singing.

Knowing how much those experiences lifted our spirits during a difficult and emotional time away from home, I leapt at an opportunity this year to give a little back. One of the choirs I sing with was invited to spend an afternoon singing carols and Christmas songs at a regional Children’s Hospice, whilst one of the local football teams delivered presents and spent time talking to current patients and their families. It had been an occasion that I’d been hoping to take part in last year, so as soon as I heard we were invited back this year, I knew that I just had to be a part of it if at all possible.

img_13021Yesterday was that day and what a truly magical experience it was. A small group of just 9 of us gathered and spent the afternoon singing carols and Christmas songs to the children and their families, who are so dependent on this Hospice to provide some precious moments of respite during the year. I took the opportunity during our visit to speak to staff members, parents and even some of the children themselves and gleaned just a small insight into how important this Hospice is to them all. There were no tears yesterday; just a celebration of the individuals gathered in those rooms and an opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime. When favourite songs were requested, we gladly sang them to bring a little extra cheer to what was already an amazing party. I gently persuaded – ok, 15578155_10154311119488790_2228089488536286007_operhaps, more honestly, I coerced with a cheerful smile and a little Christmas spirit – some of the footballers to join us for a rousing rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, which ended with friends, family and staff also singing along and sharing in the joy of that moment.

We received thanks for our attendance again this year, but the truth is that we received from the experience far more than we gave. It was a huge honour to be able to be even a small part of a fantastic event and, for me, a real opportunity to give something back to families that are living through a reality that reminded me just how lucky our family truly is. Not everybody can sing; not everybody will be able to offer practical help, but if you can find a way to #givesomethingback this Christmas season and beyond, please do.

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All the Fun of the Fair

There’s no doubt that the weeks since April have dragged past at snail’s pace for a certain young man and his broken leg. 10 weeks into having that leg encased in plaster, and all of M’s hopes were pinned on the sarmiento cast finally being removed and allowing what must now be a skinny, white limb see some summer sun and fresh air. Unfortunately, the last fracture clinic appointment did not go according to M’s plan and the x-rays showed that the bone regrowth had slowed down and was not at the level the orthopaedic consultants were expecting it to be after over 2 months in a cast. The news that he has to survive another 3 weeks of limited mobility was not well-received and, having seen him stoically accept the verdict before crumbling once we left the unit, it was a massively disappointed and heartbroken little boy Mike and I had to take back home. The next 30 hours or so saw him at a lower point than we’ve experienced for a long time and it was only thanks to his sense of commitment and phenomenal strength to keep fighting the fight that we managed to convince him to go to his school’s summer music concert that evening, where he disguised his emotions well and took part on his cello and in the choir with reasonable gusto.

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What we needed was something to cheer him up and fortunately that something was already pencilled in on our calendar for that very weekend. It might not have looked too promising during Stagecoach on the Friday night as M broke down in tears about not being able to dance with everyone else, but thanks to much encouragement and enthusiasm from his big sister as well as a determined spirit that won’t be kept down, by early Saturday morning, things were looking a lot brighter and it looked like we had weathered yet another health storm.

The reason? The song and dance routine that their Stagecoach school were going to be performing as part of our local carnival’s parade and a huge serving of 70s disco to boot. We had always planned for M to be part of the parade in his wheelchair, knowing that the mile and a half long route would be too much for a newly healed leg.

IMG_0502[1]The preceding weeks had been busy with costume preparations and plans to pimp his wheelchair for the event and his decision to ask for a 70s themed cast at the previous fracture clinic meant that we were all set for the parade. Mike and I had also been roped in to help out for the day and I had even managed a few tweaks to our own clothes to make sure we were part of the 70s disco theme. All of the children were fantastic as they sang and danced their way towards the town’s football club and entertained the crowds, who joined in with the familiar moves of “Night Fever” and “Tragedy”. I was particularly proud of G, whose hard work and dedication to her dance saw her selected to be one of the 2 dance captains and she led the group with a flair and sense of fun that I rarely see from her when she’s performing. She really stepped up to the mark and the smile on her face showed just how much she enjoyed it.

And M enjoyed himself too, despite his insistence he wouldn’t. He and I showed off our moves as we grooved our way down the High Street and he waved right and left as friends called out and cheered our group as we went past. Of course the disappointment of not being able to participate as fully as he would have liked was still there, but he was caught up in the excitement of the day and really did enjoy all the fun of the fair!

 

“So much time…

...and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it…”

                                                          – Willy Wonka, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (Roald Dahl)

This past week has been busy and there’s still lots more to do, not least of which is a proper blog post.  However, the reality that is choir rehearsals,..SATS revision,..sunflower growing,..Anglo-Saxon house building,..SATS revision,..CAMHS appointments,..food-trialling,..SATS revision and May Bank holiday trips to Legoland Windsor for “Star Wars Day” as well as time spent prepping for EGID awareness week with Powerpoint presentations to perfect and conversations with local media to be had, means that this week’s posts have gone by the wayside, so instead here’s a small photo round-up to give you a taster of all the fun we’re having:

Musical interlude

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent

                                                                                                                             – Victor Hugo   

Everybody needs a release for the stresses and strains of day-to-day living.  For some it may be sitting down in front of the television with a large glass of something cold, for others it could be something more active to challenge the body to see just what they can achieve.  For me, there are three things guaranteed to lighten my load:  a good book; a successful bake; and music.

piano

For as long as I can remember, music has been a huge part of my life.  When I was growing up, my parents always said they knew when I was finding life tough because the music would slowly disappear from my daily routine.  I would no longer sit at the piano and sing, until eventually that dark cloud would pass and I could let the music back in.  It is amazing to me how certain songs or tunes can evoke powerful memories and the emotions come rushing back.

clarient These days, whilst the piano sits proudly in our sitting room as an important member of our family that I cannot imagine being without, I rarely find the time to bash out a tune or two.  All too often, I find myself surrounded by small children who want to play alongside me, but who don’t have the patience to allow Mummy to teach them the basics.  However, despite a certain reluctance to put in much practice at home, both G and M have chosen celloto learn instruments to play.  We were recently treated to the school summer music concert, which saw both children playing solo pieces, though I’d be hard-pressed to say who had the greater look of concentration on their face – G with her clarinet or M with his cello.

I am delighted that both G and M love to have music in their lives, a fact that I like to attribute to my incessant playing of specially selected compilation albums during both of my pregnancies.  They both listen to CDs at night to help them settle to sleep and we almost always have a CD playing in the car, even for the shortest of journeys.  I maintain that there is a song for every occasion and have been known to coax M out of the darkest of moods by my rendition of any song that springs to mind, often with a slight change to the lyrics to suit the situation.

My biggest musical passion is, and always has been, singing.  Over the years I have had the opportunity and privilege to sing with some wonderfully talented musicians, from my competition-winning school choir to the history-making Cathedral choir and many more along the way.  I have sung with women-only choirs as well as mixed voices and have had the heady experience of performing on my own in addition to singing with groups that have varied in size from less than 10 to over 200.

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My current choir is a wonderful group of anywhere between 10 and 20 ladies, who meet weekly to share our love of music.  Each Tuesday I abandon Mike and the children for an hour’s worth of music, laughter and the most amazing friendships I could imagine.  This group of ladies bring a smile to my face without fail and this week’s rehearsal found me giggling so hard that I couldn’t get any semblance of a note out of my mouth.  I was transported away from the week’s dramas with M and instead could just enjoy some time without that pressure overwhelming me.  No matter what the song, we have a great time and it’s been a pleasure to see the choir grow over the last couple of years.  Sometimes the lyrics of the songs really strike a chord and help me express something I had no idea how else to explain.  At our recent concert, one of the other choirs performing sang the song “There’s a hero” by Billy Gilman which really spoke to me of our journey with M and how I feel about our family.  If you don’t know this song, you can listen to it here.