Pennine Lancashire stroke survivors choir hits high notes with respected soprano

A choir of local stroke survivors, still singing together despite disruption from coronavirus, were joined by a very special guest, professional soprano Laura Wright.

Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 3:45 pm

The Stroke Association’s Pennine Lancs Stroke Choir, which is made up of local stroke survivors, some with a communication difficulty called aphasia, usually meet twice a month. Due to the latest government advice they can no longer meet to sing at Walshaw House in Nelson and Darwen Methodist Church.

To ensure the members of the choir can still have this vital meet up, Stroke Association support c-oordinators Andrea Walsh and Lynne Haworth are committed to running virtual choir sessions for the stroke survivors.

This week they were joined by soprano, Laura Wright. Laura’s father had a stroke and has been left with mobility and communication problems, so supporting stroke survivors is very close to her heart.

Some of the choir enjoying a virtual sing-along

Laura said: “The past few months have been a strange and testing time for all of us. But for those coping with the serious after effects of stroke the lockdown can be even more isolating and difficult. My dad had a stroke so I know how important the rehabilitation process is and how debilitating the condition can be.

“As part of my mission to personally connect with vulnerable individuals who are being kept away from their friends and family, I was so excited to hold a virtual singing lesson with the Stroke Association and their Pennine Lancs Stroke Choir. We had such a great session and it was brilliant to sing some of the old favourites and to see so many smiling faces."

After a stroke, around one in three people have difficulty communicating, which can be terrifying and isolating. Singing is an important part of a stroke survivor’s recovery; it is often easier for people to communicate through song than speech because a different part of the brain is used.

Philippa Pemberton from Sunny Bower is a volunteer and a carer for husband Michael. They have both been performing with the choir since it started six years ago.

Philippa said: “Monday mornings with the choir are always a great start to the week but this morning was especially so. It was a privilege to be part of our session this morning and to meet the lovely Laura Wright. A very happy, uplifting memory.”

Choir member Brian Bailey, from Nelson, added: “When you are in a dark place, just the smallest amount of light can brighten up your day. Laura's voice was a shining beacon.”

Andrea Walsh, Stroke Association support co-ordinator, said: “We’re so happy that we have been able to bring our choir together virtually even though we can’t meet in person. It’s wonderful that we can support each other and sing together at this uncertain time.

“Our choir master Peter Young usually supports us each week, giving his time for free and we’re extremely grateful. This week he could relax as soprano singer, Laura Wright joined the session. We want to say a special thank you to Laura. Her beautiful singing was a treat for all of us and I hope we can continue singing together in the future.”

The Stroke Association provides a Stroke Recovery Service in East Lancs and Blackburn with Darwen, in partnership with East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group respectively. For more information, contact Andrea Walsh on 07717 275 768.

For more information about stroke, ring the Stroke Helpline on 0303 30 33 100 or visit