Larne choir ‘over the moon’ at Dementia Friendly Award

Sarah Travers with Geraldine Mulvenna and Bernadine McCrory, director Alzheimer's Society.  Picture: Elaine Hill Photography
Sarah Travers with Geraldine Mulvenna and Bernadine McCrory, director Alzheimer's Society. Picture: Elaine Hill Photography

The Larne-based ‘This is Me’ choir has enjoyed success at the Northern Ireland Dementia Friendly Awards.

The choir picked up the award in the Dementia Friendly Community of the Year category at the ceremony in Belfast’s Europa Hotel, hosted by Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Sarah Travers.

This is Me, Dementia Friendly Choir from Larne.  Picture: Elaine Hill Photography

This is Me, Dementia Friendly Choir from Larne. Picture: Elaine Hill Photography

This Is Me was set up in 2018 as part of a vision by Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna to provide a service for people living with dementia in her local area. It fitted perfectly into Mid and East Antrim Council’s Dementia Friendly Communities programme and is co-funded by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the local authority.

Sessions run every Wednesday afternoon 2pm-3pm in The Music Yard, Larne and are open to people living with dementia, carers, friends and family. Numbers have gone from strength to strength with an average of 30-35 members attending each week.

Gerardine said: “I’m over the moon for the choir, they absolutely love their time together and it brings so much joy to every single one of them. It’s so beautiful because while it’s people with dementia, it’s also their carers and family who are a part of it too.

“Thomas and Angela, the choirmasters, are so gifted at bringing best out of the group, just thrilled for them. We’ve all become so close, looking out for each other, so this award is just the icing on the cake. We just cannot underestimate the power of music and how it takes them back and does wonders for their well-being.”

There are 22,000 people in Northern Ireland living with dementia, a number forecast to double by 2040.

Alzheimer’s Society’s 2019 Dementia Friendly Awards recognise, celebrate and promote the inspirational achievements of those uniting to making a real difference to people living with dementia.

Bernadine McCrory, Alzheimer’s Society Northern Ireland director, said: “This year’s awards celebrate individuals, organisations and communities leading and inspiring a change that will transform the lives of people living with dementia forever, challenging misunderstandings, changing attitudes and taking action. It is amazing that ‘This is Me’ choir has won the NI Dementia Friendly award and it is a testament to their tremendous dementia-friendly work.”

Details of the awards, including a full list of winners, can be found online at alzheimers.org.uk/dementiafriendlyawards