THE stars of a TV choir established to highlight the link between music and dementia are set to benefit to the tune of £20,000 - after a businessman was touched by their plight.
Our Dementia Choir - soon to be seen on BBC1 in a third series of Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure - has been given the generous boost from Nottingham developer, ALB Group.
The thoughtful gesture came about as Arran Bailey, ALB Group’s managing director, was so impressed with the support that the choir has given his family friend, Kevin Cuthbert, he felt he had to do something to help.
Kevin, 69, who grew up in Nottingham’s The Meadows, has known Arran’s mum Toni and his uncle Jez since they were teenagers.
When he was diagnosed with dementia in November last year, it was a devastating blow to not just Kevin but to all who know him.
Retired Rolls-Royce and Royal Ordnance Factory worker Kevin has been attending Our Dementia Choir sessions since January and his friends say it has made a vast difference to his wellbeing.
As Kevin, who was a member of the GB Karate team in the 1980s, sang in a band called Kev and the Kevinettes, it’s been a great boost to be performing again.
But the choir, which has members who were diagnosed in their 40s and 50s, does not receive any funding from government, medical or research bodies - members raise money through their own fundraising, donations, bids and performances.
Arran said: “Kevin is a very close family friend who has been in my life since I was born.
“Our Dementia Choir is doing amazing work with people suffering from dementia.
“My mum went to watch them singing with Tom Grennan at Splendour Festival recently and got talking to them and they mentioned that they struggle for funding. She told me the dementia choir needed £20,000 to survive the year which is also why I wanted to step in and help with this amount."
ALB is donating a hefty amount of the costs due from Broxtowe Borough Council following their planning appeal which saw the decision to redevelop the former Nottingham College campus, in Beeston, into 162 student apartments, overturned. The scheme has since been approved.
Arran said: “We have lost nearly a year on this project and the costs sustained to the business was so much more than the monies awarded by the council, but it felt right to donate the money towards a worthy cause that would bring happiness after the struggles we’ve had.”
Harry Whyte, of HBW, a partner in the business, said: “It has been struggling at times, getting the planning approval, but it feels good now we’re on site and can donate this money to bring so many smiles.”
Arran added: “I think the choir is a fantastic Nottingham cause and after being invited to one of their rehearsals I was blown away and so happy I could help.”
“My grandparents, Ernie and Joyce, both suffered from dementia towards the end, which makes this charity even more close to my heart.
“They have helped Kevin so much and I just wish that something like this was around here when my grandparents were alive as this would have helped massively.”
The charity is chaired by Nottingham actress Vicky McClure, of Line of Duty, This is England and Broadchurch fame.
She helped to set up the choir as part of the BBC documentary - which has a third series set to be aired this month - after seeing her grandmother’s struggle with dementia.
Vicky said: “‘We are so grateful to ALB for their extremely generous donation to Our Dementia Choir. “Thank you so much! Your donation will go such a long way to supporting our choir members and their families and carers.”
Choir secretary Karen Bonser said finding funding is “a constant struggle that is not getting easier” and the choir relies on goodwill from various organisations for venue hire.
She added: “The donation will be used to support rehearsals and costs incurred for activities and performances.
“This will include transport, catering and the cost of some activities. Funding is also used to support carers and families through the provision of wellbeing and mental health support.
“Currently the budget for running the choir exceeds £35,000 per year - the majority of which we raise by carrying out fundraising activities ourselves.
“So to receive donations to support the choir is absolutely fantastic and will be the start of what we hope will be a strong relationship with a local business.”
To find out more about ALB Group’s work, visit www.albgroup.co.uk
To find out more about the choir, visit www.ourdementiachoir.com