Take trip down memory lane

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A MUSICAL blast from the past can often unlock the key to long forgotten stories and happy memories for people of all ages.

And from Friday, May 6, people who attend the St John Ambulance Day Centre in Ashington, will be taking a trip down their very own musical Memory Lane.

With the help of professional folk musicians Chris Meredith on the fiddle and Amy Thatcher on the accordion, from the Live Music Now charity, service users at the centre will be able to explore their memories and reminisce with others in five therapeutic Musical Memories sessions.

The regular sessions will be steered by the service users’ interests and preferences and may include traditional north east songs such as The Keel Row and Cushie Butterfield but could also include pop classics from the 60s and 70s, skipping rhymes or other happy tunes from the past.

The aim of Musical Memories is to promote the centre users’ health and well-being by encouraging them to share their experiences through music.

The musicians will also help to set up a percussion band at the centre, supporting the service users to create their own music to accompany words and poems written during the project.

Amy and Chris will also perform for the service users, explaining the stories behind the music and demonstrating how the instruments work.

The final session will be an informal performance by the service users and the musicians, for friends and family.

Linda Scarr, manager of St John Ambulance Day Centre at Ashington, said: ‘Sometimes it can be difficult for some of our service users to communicate with others, but Musical Memories will help them to relax, laugh and in many cases will trigger a memory or past experience which they will wish to share.

“Musical Memories is also a very creative, as well as therapeutic project and our users will enjoy joining in with the percussion and setting their own words to music.

“This project certainly has the feelgood factor and we’re all looking forward to it.”

Karen Irwin, director of Live Music Now in the north east, added: “Our Musical Memories sessions are very rewarding as you can clearly see how much participants benefit – whether it’s remembering happy stories, listening to others, sharing experiences, making music or simply enjoying music.”

“Live Music Now plays an integral part in promoting the wellbeing of people in diverse communities throughout the UK,” she added.

Musical Memories is funded by the Sir James Knott Charitable Trust.

To find out more about St John Ambulance day centres contact Sheila Lambert on (0191) 256 4711.