A CHARITY which has been using Music for the Mind sessions for the past decade to help more than 100 people in Wiltshire living with dementia has praised the team behind the BBC’s Our Dementia Choir.

The new two-part BBC programme with presenter actor Vicky McLure began on May 2 and shows how music benefits people living with dementia.

Stephany Bardzil, of Trowbridge-based Alzheimer’s Support, is proud they have been running Music for the Mind groups in Wiltshire for the last ten years.

The charity now runs 11 groups where people with dementia and a family carer come together to sing under the guidance of a professional singing teacher.

More than 100 people with dementia in Wiltshire take part every week. The first weekly group started in Corsham in 2009 and the most recent was launched last year in Mildenhall near Marlborough.

As with the television choir, the groups start with vocal warm-ups before singing a mixture of familiar and less familiar songs, practising new material and tackling harmonies and rounds.

Babs Harris, chief executive officer of Alzheimer’s Support, said: “We use music throughout our work, not only in Music for the Mind groups, but in our day clubs and as we support people one-to-one.

“As well as being invaluable for reconnecting somebody with their own past, music helps to create common moments and shared bonds and that too is incredibly powerful.

“We are fascinated to see more of the science behind this and it is fantastic that the Dementia Choir programme is delving into this too.

“Full marks to Vicky McClure and her team – it is an excellent programme that brings people’s stories to the fore and shows that people can still do so much, and enjoy so much, when they have dementia.”

Members of Alzheimer’s Support’s day clubs have also become the face of a national campaign highlighting the importance of music for people living with dementia.

Photographs taken at the charity’s day clubs in Trowbridge, Devizes and Warminster feature extensively on the national Music for Dementia 2020 campaign website and have been used on Classic FM’s website and social media.

Music for Dementia 2020, run by the Utley Foundation, is campaigning for music to be available to everyone affected by dementia.

Programme director Grace Meadows said: “When we walked into the Alzheimer’s Support’s Old Silk Works club in Warminster we were bowled over by the vast amount of musical activity available to club members.”

“We loved the photographs that are taken by the charity’s Head of Day Care Grant Newton and are so thankful to all the individuals and families who agreed to let us use the images on the new site.”

To find out more about Wiltshire’s own dementia choirs see www.alzheimerswiltshire.org.uk/music-for-the-mind