East Sussex dementia charity aims for Christmas number one

17th December

Staff working for an East Sussex charity, which helps people in Heathfield and Horam, is hoping they’ll be simply having a wonderful Christmas time as they eye a Christmas number one spot for their fundraising single.

Suzanne Procter and Helen Snow

Local people are being asked to buy a copy to help charity Dementia Support East Sussex to continue its crucial work in the community.

The original composition – called Sweet Singing in the Choir –  has been recorded by Dementia East Sussex to raise much needed funds as well as a few spirits.

The song was written by Graham Slack, son of the charity’s founder, the late Cliff Slack, of Icklesham.  After a year of little interaction with their clients, the charity wants to bring the joy of song to everyone this Christmas and make sure that ‘a star of hope is shining through the fear’.

Dementia Support East Sussex is run by Principal Suzanne Procter from Hove and Vice Principal Helen Snow from Rottingdean.  The charity offers free interactive singing, movement and craft sessions to those living with dementia and their carers, across East Sussex including Ditchling, Lewes, Peacehaven, Newhaven, Eastbourne, Horam, Heathfield, Uckfield, Hadlow Down, Hailsham and Bexhill. 

Suzanne says: “2020 has been a tremendously difficult year for everyone but particularly for our service users, many of whom have been isolated from friends and family. We’ve had to move our sessions online to help them continue to benefit from the amazing power of music and song. We also managed to deliver many garden singing sessions during the summer which went down a storm.  Graham had the idea of creating this upbeat song to help remind people of the power of music and singing to help us all through tough times, and raise money for our charity – which brings the power of music to those living with dementia – in the process.”

Helen  – whose claim to fame is being the soprano on the version of Silent Night featured in blockbuster movie Love Actually – adds: “We would usually put on a huge Christmas concert for our service users but that won’t be possible this year. Instead, we decided to record and release this single with all the proceeds going towards the work we do. We thought it would be a wonderful idea to include as many of the people connected to our organisation in the video as possible – we even persuaded a couple of our trustees to join in. We would be so grateful if people could buy the single to help raise funds. It will mean we can offer even more free sessions for venues across East Sussex in the months ahead.”

Here is a link to the music video

And a link to a more traditional and popular Christmas Carol that was recorded as a bonus track.

The team is collecting money via its GoFundMe page

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-make-us-christmas-number-one

Dementia Support East Sussex offers interactive singing, movement and craft sessions to those living with dementia and their carers.

From small beginnings in 2014 with two sessions per month at a dementia friendly ‘singing and friendship’ group in Bexhill the team now completes at least 25 to 30 sessions each month (Pre-Covid) across East Sussex. They visit venues in Ditchling, Lewes, Peacehaven, Newhaven, Eastbourne, Horam, Heathfield, Uckfield, Wadhurst, Brighton, Hadlow Down, Hailsham and Bexhill.

The charity operates on a shoestring and makes no charge for its sessions and believes its service should be free so that none are excluded.  It has sustained its growth through the generosity of donations and small grant funding but faces increased running costs including volunteer travel expenses, purchasing props such as musical instruments, pom poms, advertising, website maintenance, zoom payments to name but a few. 

The charity hopes with more funding and support it will be able to continue toprovide services to its current venues and extend these to more groups so more people with dementia and their carers can benefit from the power of music and singing.

Sweet Singing in the Choir: Single Credits

Lyrics by Dan Griffiths

Music by Graham Slack

Lead & Harmony vocals – Suzanne Procter & Helen Snow

Harmony Vocals – Dan Griffiths, Cooper Snow & Hadlee Snow

Electric & Acoustic Guitars – Dan Griffiths

Piano & Keyboards – Graham Slack

Trumpet – Kevin Jenner

Tenor Horn – Michelle Jenner

Oboe – Martin Bailey-Wood

Video Director and Editor – James Weisz

Appearing in the video were: Caitlin Cheal, Zoe Cheal, Cooper Snow, Hadlee Snow, Joan and Vincent Procter, Cath and Alan Bunyan, Sue Wren, Alan and June Hustwayte, Sarah Withey and her brownies, Madeline and John Bustard, Anita Ashton, Gladys All Over,  Ann and Graham Walsh, Patricia Kilby, Father Dan of St Andrews Church, Hove, Greg Ashton and the Snow Machine!