New Cancer Choir idea for the Islands

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Hebridean Harmony is a new idea to form a singing group for cancer patients and relatives in the Lewis area.

It follows the model of Tenovus, a Welsh cancer support charity.

Hebrides Harmony Choir Leader, Carole Miller.

Hebrides Harmony Choir Leader, Carole Miller.

Tenovus began with just ten people, hence the name ‘Ten of Us’, but has grown to 16 large choirs across Wales.

Cancer patients, survivors, relatives and others have a lot of fun, and find it a great benefit in dealing with the issues they face.

The initiative in Lewis comes from Christine Rushworth who stays in Marvig, South Lochs.

She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2016. Surgery at Raigmore appears to have completely removed the cancer.

However, other complications resulted in two years of malnutrition, too many emergency admissions to hospital and two further surgeries. Eventually she returned to good health.

In her darkest period Christine spent time in Wales, which is how she came to benefit from a Tenovus Choir, and why she is now keen to bring similar benefits to the Islands.

Christine is not alone in the effort to bring the to life.

Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative (WICCI) who have recently moved into new premises on Cromwell Street in Stornoway, are also backing the choir.

Helen Sanderson, the WICCI Development Manager, said she had the idea herself but was short of time to kick it off.

Initial sessions of the choir will take place at the new WICCI Centre.

Further support comes from Kirsty Wade, who runs the Move More Project.

Move More is also concerned with bringing health and other benefits to people with serious conditions.

A crucial factor in the success of the Welsh choirs is their team of amazing choir leaders.

They have to be not only musically expert, but must also have the spark to bring people out of themselves to have fun.

Fortunately, Hebridean Harmony has the right person in Carole Miller.

She plays the piano and flute, and also the harp.

After study at the Royal Conservatoire, Scotland she pursued a career including performing, teaching, examining for two music exam boards, and adjudicating at the Mods.

It was as a teacher that she became aware of the benefits of singing, working first with children and then adults.

She has thirty years of choir experience and is delighted to be working with Hebridean Harmony.

The group’s Facebook page, @hebrideanharmony, is already gathering “likes” and “shares”, and posters for the choir are appearing around the town.

The first sessions will take place on Tuesday 6th August at 2.30pm and Wednesday 7th August at 7pm, at the WICCI Centre, next to Kopi Java Cafe on Cromwell Street.

There are positively no auditions to join the choir.

As their poster says: “If you can sing, squeak, croak or groan, and have some connection with cancer, you’re in.”

In fact, not only connections to cancer, but connections to any serious condition will make you welcome.

The regular session day and time is yet to be decided. Christine is hoping that plenty will come to the initial sessions, and that the best times to suit people will be worked out then.