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Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.

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Musical ‘Happy Hour’ brings back memories

Ruth Hannah, Muscial MemoriesRuth Hannah from Musical Memories tells us about her singing ‘Happy Hour’ sessions in Pickering and the positive effect it has on the older people who attend.

I started Musical Memories, which is a social enterprise, to give older people the opportunity to sing together and enjoy each other’s company. It helps to combat loneliness and isolation and improves health and well-being.We sing songs of yesteryear because they are familiar to many older people; they help to stimulate the memory and encourage reminiscence. Studies have shown that singing together can boost levels of immunity, reduce stress and improve mood, having a positive impact on overall health and well-being.

Find out more about Sing Your Heart Out

Our Musical Memories ‘Happy Hour’ is a fun, social singing session for older people. Singing many of the best known songs of the 20th century and accompanied by piano and guitar, it is the perfect opportunity get together in a social setting, have a cuppa, reminisce, make new friends and sing!

Ruth and the Musical Memories group in Pickering

Since we started in October, the number of people attending our ‘Happy Hour’ has grown and grown. We warmly welcome everyone with a cup of tea and a biscuit and then we get down to the real fun – singing and remembering.Everyone is provided with a songbook in large type face for easy reading, I play the stage piano and my husband, Neil, plays the electric guitar to lead the singing with the group.

Each month has a focus or a theme: we had a wonderful time at Christmas playing sleigh bells and swannee whistles; for February we sung from specially collated ‘Love Song’ booklets and in March we focused on songs with girls’ names in them for International Women’s Day. This month, our theme has been British songs from the Eurovision Song Contest so we’ve been singing classics like ‘Puppet on a String’.

Some of the older people come to the sessions by themselves while others are accompanied by neighbours or relatives who also stay to enjoy the singing. One neighbour picks up three ladies and brings them to the session each week. Many stay on for the lunch club which is held afterwards for a meal and the opportunity for even more socialising.

It is lovely to see how the sessions affect the older people that attend. One gentleman attends with his daughter, who also stays to sing. He particularly likes the songs from the musicals. He recently told his doctor ‘This is my medicine’ as it made him feel so much better.

Another lady initially appeared quite shy and reticent but over the weeks has become quite playful. She was recently seen leaving one session confidently singing ‘Kiss me honey, honey kiss me’ – a real favourite of the group. After singing ‘Slow Boat to China’, another gentleman recalled, in conversation with Neil, his father’s wartime experiences in China.

Ruth runs sessions for the Royal Voluntary Service Pickering. Find out more about volunteering or support services in your area.

Posted by Ruth Hannah at 00:00 Tuesday, 14 June 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, music, memory