AN MP with personal experience of dementia sang her heart out for the cause today (August 28) after taking part in a musical group designed to help sufferers.

Bishop Auckland’s MP, Helen Goodman, joined more than 30 dementia sufferers and their carers at the Singing for the Brain event, held at Barnard Castle Methodist Church.

The service, provided by the Alzheimer’s Society, uses singing to bring people together in a friendly and stimulating social environment and is held at the church every two weeks as part of a wider programme to make the town dementia friendly.

Loading article content

The session was led by volunteer and ukulele player, Graham Henley, 67, who played songs around this week’s theme of ‘water’ with examples such as Singing in the Rain and The Drunken Sailor, while participants joined in and also used instruments such as tambourines and bells.

Mrs Goodman, who is also a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dementia, spoke of her own experience of the disease as her mother suffers from it.

She said: “My mum has Alzheimer’s so I know from personal experience it’s quite hard for the person and it’s quite hard for their family to come to terms with.

“At Christmas we were singing carols and it was the best bit of the whole thing because she was just like everybody else.”

She added: “I’m supporting it because it’s a growing problem. There are about 7,000 sufferers in County Durham, which is a lot of people and it’s really important that people are able to access services which are enjoyable, which help them to increase their brains and which integrate them with other people in the community.

“I just think the Alzheimer’s Society is absolutely brilliant just because the diagnosis can be a bit frightening and I think helping to support the person with Alzheimer’s and their family is tremendously important.”

Relations officer, Claire Batey, said participants chose their own songs and enjoyed singing everything from traditional hymns and local songs to The Beatles.

She said: “The reason why it’s so important is because the part of your brain responsible for reactions and remembering music is strongly linked to emotions and that link to emotions and music stays strong long after other mental functions have deteriorated.”

The Society has also recently launched a Games for the Brain session which is held at Teesdale Leisure Centre, in Barnard Castle, every Monday from 2pm until 3.30pm.

For more information visit or call 0191-3890400.