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Military wives choir brings festive cheer to mental health patients

​A military wives choir has brought Christmas cheer to older people who have mental health conditions and are in hospital over the festive period, at a special concert yesterday.

The performance which took place yesterday (12 December) at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Wedgwood House, Bury St Edmunds, put smiles on the faces of patients and staff alike.

Esther Wilson, a mental health Charge Nurse on Abbeygate Ward, and a soprano in the Wattisham Military Wives Choir, organised the performance as part of the ward’s Christmas celebrations.

The ward assesses and cares for older people who have a mental health condition and a physical health condition.

She said: “Some people do not realise that at this time of year not everyone will be at home with their families. It is important that we ensure patients in our services during this time feel comfortable and help them to celebrate the holiday period too.

“It was a privilege for me to sing with my choir for the patients that I care for. Some of our service users have dementia and music is an effective form of reminiscence therapy to help with their recovery.

“Lots of the patients recognised the songs and even had a sing-along!

“This is the first time many of my colleagues will have seen me perform. So, it was a bit nerve wracking, but I do feel proud of both my ward and my choir and it was likely to be able to bring the two things I’m passionate about together in this way to give our patients a little boost.”

The choir is a group of wives and girlfriends of personnel serving at RAF Wattisham, Suffolk. Esther, who lives in mid Suffolk, is married to an Army veteran and has been part of the choir for more than three years. She said it has been a great support network and given her good friendships and increased her confidence.

“The choir is much more than just singing. I’ve moved house three times in as many years as my husband has been deployed to various bases and so it’s easy to lose contact with friends or be away from family This is the first time I’ve been part of a group like this and its really uplifting to meet up weekly to sing a range of songs, have a chat and a cup of tea.”

The 15-strong group perform concerts throughout the year, with one of their biggest performances to date at Norwich Cathedral in front of hundreds of people.

The Abbeygate Ward concert is their last performance of 2017.

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