"Joan (pictured right with Diane) is 88 and has been a wonderfully caring mum and a devoted wife to Les, who died last March aged 90 after a long and drawn out illness. Joan was Les’ main carer. Over the last 25 years, Joan has suffered from five major depressive episodes, which are very serious – she becomes completely debilitated with severe anxiety problems.
"In July last year, Joan suffered another episode. This came soon after losing her husband. Her purpose in life had gone and she felt very lonely and at a loss to what to do with her life.
"I was determined to find activities in the community that might help her become less lonely, and discovered Manchester Camerata’s “Living in your Town” – a music project aimed at older people in Tameside who were lonely and felt isolated.
"I knew it was going to be difficult to encourage mum to go to the rehearsals, as going anywhere new for her, in her depressive state of mind, was challenging and frightening. There wasn’t a session where mum wasn’t anxious beforehand, but as soon as she got there and the drama games and singing began, she was completely distracted from her negative thoughts. Her anxieties disappeared during these activities.
"The entire group began to bond and they were so great with mum when I wasn’t there, meeting her from hospital, making sure she was included and generally keeping an eye on her.
"Up to the bitter end just before the concert, mum had self-doubts and felt worried about performing at The Bridgewater Hall. The transformation of mum on stage was amazing. We even did a spontaneous duet. She no longer had any self-doubts or inhibitions, was totally absorbed in the performance and was smiling all over her face. My brother was in the audience and he was moved to tears because he knew how she had been before. After the standing ovation at the Bridgewater, she is raring to go again.
"Without exception, the team at Manchester Camerata have been amazing. They are talented, funny, sensitive and non-judgmental – just good fun to be with!
"I feel humbled and privileged to have been part of the opera and to have met so many lovely people. Soon after the end of the project, Mum recovered from her depression and has started to do more things in the community. She has swapped telephone numbers with another participant from the group and is looking forward to the next Camerata experience."
In partnership with Age Friendly Manchester, we develop a variety of projects which address a major national priority, the ageing population. This year, these projects have grown to reach more people across Greater Manchester, including older people living in the community and adults with mental health issues.
—We believe someone is never too old to be creative and express their thoughts and feelings
—Our projects give older people the opportunity to perform at venues such as the Bridgewater Hall
—A key development this year has been the creation of the ‘Tameside Opera’ group who created a new opera and performed across Greater Manchester
If you're keen to know more or would like to support our work, please contact Lucy Geddes on:
T: 0161 226 8696