Havering Mind choir shares festive cheer as Christmas song revealed in new video
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After the success of the NHS choir Christmas song, Havering Mind staff and volunteers have recorded their own song. Chloe Farand met the talented singers to find out more
It’s one day nearer to Christmas, and service users at a mental health charity are celebrating the festive season with a song.
Havering Mind’s choir has tuned into the crispy winter mood and recorded a Christmas tune to help spread the cheer.
Written by charity volunteer Margaret Sim, the song One Day Nearer was released in a new professional video clip on Friday.
“I wanted to write a song that would help raise awareness about mental health issues,” said Margaret.
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The choir was joined by mayor Cllr Philippa Crowder on the day of the recording.
Ruby, who joined the group a few months ago and has not missed one session since, said the filming gave members “a sense of pride and achievement”.
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“We were doing it together, as a team. It’s a very good way to meet different people of all backgrounds,” she added.
The choir of about 15 singers of all abilities was set up in 2009 by Amelia Dunn and helps people with mental health issues express their emotions through music.
Tunes sung by the group include Don’t Worry Be Happy, Hallelujah, Something Inside so Strong, Imagine and Oh Happy Day.
Ruby said: “When we are singing, all the choir is saying those same lyrics and sharing that moment.
“It really helps to release emotions.”
Between each song, the singers can reflect on how they feel and share their reactions to the song with the group.
Choir leader Amelia told the Recorder: “When I first invited people to the choir, people told me they could never do something like it.
“Since then it has grown and grown and people are now looking forward to the Friday sessions.
“It has inspired their confidence and conveyed to them they can be in a group – now we are a happy family.
“Many people with anxiety also don’t breathe properly but when they start singing, their breathing becomes normal again and without realising they relax.”
For Lisa, learning how to control her breathing has been key in helping her to relax.
“Everybody is valued for what they bring to the choir and we are never forced to do anything we don’t want to do,” she added.
We want a little bit of tinsel, we want a little bit of glow, continues the Christmas song.
But although many look forward to the festive season, for others it is a difficult time, which brings back dark memories.
Sue explained the last thing she heard in the hospital when her father passed away one Christmas Eve was a choir.
“This is a nice way to remember him,” she said.
“Singing lifts my mood and leads me through the week. It’s made a real difference.”
Havering Mind’s choir will perform at the town hall on December 16, at about 1pm, to celebrate the end of the Recorder’s mental health campaign.