Disability-friendly music group from Lancashire take centre stage at Royal Albert Hall

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A disability-friendly music group from Lancashire was given the opportunity of a lifetime to perform with music royalty in one of the United Kingdom’s most iconic venues.

The Salvation Army’s Music Man Project Lancashire is an inclusive and accessible for all music session which saw twelve musicians and carers travel to London to perform a range of songs, using both vocals and sign language, with international singer and superstar Michael Ball on stage at the Royal Albert Hall.

The two-hour show which was attended by members of the public saw the Music Man Project (MMP) Lancashire join other MMP groups from around the United Kingdom. In total 26 songs were learnt and performed by adults with learning and physical disabilities and neurodiverse conditions such as autism.

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Along with a generous donation by Poulton People’s Choir, Lancashire, The Salvation Army funded travel and accommodation to make sure participants could take part in this event.

Salvation Army Clitheroe's disability-friendly music group perform at Royal Albert HallSalvation Army Clitheroe's disability-friendly music group perform at Royal Albert Hall
Salvation Army Clitheroe's disability-friendly music group perform at Royal Albert Hall

Brenda Wise, church leader for The Salvation Army in Clitheroe said: “It is important for us to give opportunities to people who are otherwise held back by society and struggle to find places to belong. This once in a lifetime opportunity to perform at such an establishment as the Royal Albert Hall demonstrates how The Salvation Army is inclusive for all and the Music Man Project helps to raise awareness and celebrate what people with barriers to life can achieve.

“It didn’t matter if performers had a musical background or not; everyone was different in their abilities, and we saw all come alive while performing and their eyes lit up, it was really special to see. We want to send a heartfelt thanks to Michael Ball, his involvement gave everyone a unique opportunity to take on a challenge they could have never imagined being involved in before.”

The monthly Music Man Project Lancashire sessions take place on the second Tuesday of every month at the church and community centre in Clitheroe, on Lowergate. They are drop-in, with no need to pre-book a place, and start at 10:30 am concluding at 12:30 pm and encourage participants to sing and use Makaton signing. The sessions also provide opportunities to play instruments and take part in music making, using music for wellbeing, inclusion and interaction and as a powerful form of music therapy.

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Brenda added: “Through our Music Man Project sessions we have seen people with differing abilities come out of their shell, embrace their newfound freedom, and love it! We have helped build confidence and self-worth in people who struggle with day-to-day life and it also gives carers an opportunity for themselves to be supported through what can be very tough times. Music is a great way to communicate and can speak to the very heart of who we are in a way that goes beyond words.”

The Music Man Project is a national initiative with the Lancashire cohort the only regular Music Man group in the north of England. The Project was started by David Stanley in response to a young man with learning difficulties wanting to learn to play the drums, but was unable to find anyone to teach him and has proved successful with groups throughout the UK and internationally, in countries such as USA, Nepal, India and South Africa working in schools, colleges and in the community.

Clitheroe Salvation Army has a Just Giving page available dedicated to continuing its work within the town. People wishing to support and donate can do so via www.justgiving.com/tsa-community-support-000065 and whilst all donations are welcome people are encouraged to donate only what they can afford.