Sheffield's first cancer choir aims to hit the right note

Having survived breast cancer under the wonderful care of Weston Park Hospital, a former nurse from Sheffield now wants to give back by setting up the city’s first cancer choir.

By Rahmah Ghazali
Friday, 09 August, 2019, 23:55
Weston Park Charity Organisation Director of Services and Grant Giving Emma Clarke (left) with the cancer choir founding members Darrell Re, Liz Clay and Joanne Hockney.

Darrell Re of High Green, who has a background in amateur dramatic and choir singing, said this could be a form of therapy for anyone directly or indirectly affected by cancer and at the same time raising funds for the hospital.

The mother of two said singing could be a great start to the journey of recovery and as a way to restore one’s health and wellbeing.

“When you are being treated, there is a lot of focus on your physical side of your care, like getting you well and getting rid of your cancer.

“Then afterward it feels like you have just gone through a bad dream. You want to restore your health, mental and psychological wellbeing, so it catches up with the physical side of being looked after.

“And singing is sort of therapeutic, and also this is to raise money for the hospital and the services so it could provide some service for patients, ex-patients, volunteers, staff and anyone affected by cancer,” she said.

The 61-year-old said she was first inspired by a TV programme called Cold Feet, where the storyline was on a cancer choir.

“That’s when I asked, wondering if we got one here in Sheffield. So that was the trigger and inspiration and everything else started to snowball,” Ms Darrell said.

Weston Park Charity Organisation Director of Services and Grant Giving Emma Clarke (left) with the cancer choir founding members Darrell Re, Liz Clay and Joanne Hockney.

And the idea couldn’t have come at a better time as both of her friends, Liz Clay and Joanne Hockney, happened to be looking to be involved in a choir.

“I had performed with Liz and Joanne in local theatres in the dramatics so I knew they were both singers. I bumped into Liz and she told me she was actually thinking of joining a choir!

“Then I rang Joanne because I knew she teaches singing and she said she was already thinking to join a rock choir so this is like fate and something that is meant to be,” she laughed.

Ms Hockney, who will fill in as the musical director for a start, said she felt that this was a real opportunity to be able to do something worthwhile and to go back to singing which she has missed for a few years.

Weston Park Charity Organisation Director of Services and Grant Giving Emma Clarke (left) with the cancer choir founding members Darrell Re, Liz Clay and Joanne Hockney.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be the perfect person because Darrell told me to be the MD and asked me to get involved. It was a definite yes.

“I will start off with the MD at first and this is a great opportunity for me because it affects everybody,” she said, adding that her family have also been affected by cancer and this was something close to her heart.

Ms Clay said although she has not had any real-life experience on cancer, she said she was very happy to be involved in a choir, which she had always intended to do.

“It’s a bit tricky for me because I’m a carer to my daughter who has down syndrome so I kind of have been putting it off and I’ve got a list of potential choirs to join, and this is just something nice to be involved in,” she said.

Weston Park Charity Organisation Director of Services and Grant Giving Emma Clarke (left) with the cancer choir founding members Darrell Re, Liz Clay and Joanne Hockney.

The possibility of having the first cancer choir in Sheffield has also received tremendous support from Weston Park Cancer Charity.

Director of Services of Weston Park Charity Organisation Emma Clarke said the organisation would help them in getting grants to get the project off ground.

“We talked about what would be most helpful to them and for us to support. We talked about potential funding and application is being made to the charity with grant fund, individuals and organisations.

“We also talked about the things how to promote its awareness and how we can get the message out on different networks. From our point of views, we are just thrilled with the opportunity for people to do something amazing,” she said.

The cancer choir, which will have its first rehearsal at St Mark’s Church in Broomfield on September 11 at 7.30pm, is now looking for members and volunteers, along with a musical director and a pianist.

“We are also applying for grants to help the cancer charity and to pay the hire of the church and also to cover expenses for a musical director and a pianist.

“So, we are looking for sponsorship as well to help in addition to that grant,” said Ms Re, adding that they also welcome sponsorship from big companies.

If you would like to be part of the cancer choir or help in any way possible, please contact Ms Darrell Re at 07854997481 or email cancerchoir@gmail.com.