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Dementia choir launches at Norden Farm

A woman who lost her mother to dementia is launching a choir for others with the condition.

Professional singer Rona Topaz will lead Musical Memories at Norden Farm on Fridays at 2pm.

Passionate about raising awareness about dementia, Rona has led similar choirs since her own mother died in 2015.

Rona’s mother, Evelyn, battled frontotemporal dementia for nine years, during which time Rona cared for her.

Rona, who lives in Winnersh, said: “She used to always sing as a way of calming herself down, and whenever she was stressed she would burst into song.

“I realised singing was quite important to my mother and I started to nvestigate the key between dementia and singing.”

Rona found that generally the last part of the brain to shut down is the part that remembers songs and music.

She said: “My mother lost the ability to speak but was able to sing until a month-and-a-half before the end.”

In Musical Memories, members will sing songs from their youth including popular jazz and pop songs, and movie theme tunes from the 1940s to the 1980s.

Rona said running these choirs gives her ‘tremendous job satisfaction’.

She said: “They’re part of this collective wall of sound that makes this beautiful noise.”

“I have people coming up to me telling me how much it meant to them and how much they enjoy it, they get very emotional sometimes.”

The singer believes everyone should have access to choirs like this one – which are more beneficial than one-off workshops that might only take place from month-to-month.

“I go to a lot of places where they have a lot of people sitting around watching television and doing very, very little,” said Rona.

The hour-long sessions cost £6 and carers go free.

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