What a different Christmas 2020 was for everyone! At RtS we decided to try and bring some Christmas cheer to all our members by producing our very own CD and accompanying booklet. This special project was a tremendous demonstration of team work: lots of RtS volunteers (and even some of their grandchildren!) were involved in making distanced recordings of carols and the final number on the CD ("We Wish You a Merry Christmas") featured the "RtS Christmas Chorus", made up of RtS volunteers, members and carers. It's fair to say that everyone involved learnt new skills in the process! We are extremely grateful to Delphine Jones (Topics - the Creative Partnership) for the design and printing of the lovely booklet and the CD sleeve and to Phil Silver (MTS Duplication, Cardiff) for the production of the CD.  

 

 

As well as our Christmas project, we also had a "Christmas Special" virtual session on 15th December, with videos of Christmas numbers recorded by our RtS volunteers, as well as a guest appearance by RtS friend and professional singer, Rachel Marsh.  One of our volunteers appeared as Father Christmas and set the proceedings off with a resounding "Ho-Ho-Ho" and this was followed by action songs, a poem, cheerily jolly carols and peacefully calm carols. Here are some photos to give a flavour of that virtual event!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although we can still only "meet" via the internet, telephone or letter, Remember that Song activities continue to keep us connected with one another!

The Autumn session began for some of us right at the beginning of September with an unusual AGM, held via Zoom. It was lovely to see one another, and (unusually for most AGM meetings!), we concluded our meeting by singing Edelweiss.

The first virtual session on 8th September was in honour of Remember that Song’s fifth birthday. In advance of this occasion, all members had received a special RtS birthday card and a sing-along CD of songs from various decades. The theme of our first session was “Celebration and Friendship” and seven volunteers (Jim, Andrew, David, Ray, Jan, Maureen and Daphne) were involved in singing “Happy Birthday”: they each recorded themselves singing it at home and then the recordings were ‘mixed’ to make it sound like the RtS team choir!

Members continue to keep in touch with one another by telephone and "snail mail", as well as through our virtual sessions and it’s been great to have lots of input during September and October from various members of RtS … and their dogs. Maureen kindly does a video a Quiz for us on alternate weeks, with Daphne doing a warm-up video and Jan making videos of individual songs for us. When the theme of the week was “Animals”, Jan’s dog, Reuben, kindly introduced the song How much is that doggy in the window in a video demonstration of a wagging tail - a video which received a record number of hits.

It was lovely to see Barbara’s smiling face welcoming everyone to the session on “Autumn, Harvest and Food”, which also included a really lovely treat – a video of Jim, accompanied by Andrew, singing Autumn Leaves. For the warm-up section of this virtual Harvest Festival, Daphne had set up a table of harvest produce and was gaily practising the warm-up in a song involving a carrot, when her dog (chocolate Labrador, Winston) dived in and pinched the carrot.

Other themes have included “Story Time” and “School Days” – both topics led to lots of lovely suggestions from members, as well as photographs of impressive school reports and prizes. A special highlight of the session on “School Days” was provided by Welsh operatic baritone, Arwel Hugh Morgan, who made a video for us of Bing Crosby’s Swing on a Star… which fitted in with our “Schooldays” theme: And by the way, if you hate to go to school, you may grow up to be a mule... Arwel has sung principal roles with the English and Welsh National Opera Companies, performing in operas all over the world; roles have included Bartolo in Barber of Seville, Snug in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fabrizio in Thieving Magpie.

Forthcoming sessions in October will be about “Fashion” and “Songs that Cheer Us Up” and some very special activities are planned for Christmas, so watch this space!

 

 

 

    Barbara says "Hello" to everyone

 

 

       One of Jan's songs on the theme of "Animals"

 

    Guest appearance by Arwel Hugh Morgan

 

 

 

   Daphne's Dog Steals the Carrot in the Harvest session

 

 

   Jim and Andrew perform "Autumn Leaves"

 

 

 

   One of Maureen's Quizzes

 

Government regulations regarding the Corona Virus lockdown continue to be changed periodically, but our weekly gatherings at St Thomas must remain suspended for the time being. Rest assured that we will start activities again just as soon as government regulations allow and we are certain that things are safe for members and volunteers.

In the meantime, the committee and volunteers remain busy on behalf of members, with a weekly 'singalong' (with videos, photographs, messages) emailed to those who do use the internet and phone calls, letters and cards for those who don't. The themes of our virtual singalong emails since the lockdown began have included Birds, Birthdays, Cars, Sailing and VE Day. Our VE Day session featured recollections by members of their VE Day memories as children, or recollections of what their relatives had done during World War II.

A particularly popular theme at the end of May was 'Musical Instruments', featuring some of the musicians who volunteer for the group (see below for some photographs which were included in that week's activities).

Our weekly virtual sessions will continue until the end of July and will include an "Old Time Music Hall" (with a guest video appearance by opera singer, Alison Kettlewell) and "Last Night of the Proms (with a guest video appearance by opera singer, Rachel Marsh). There will be a break for the month of August and we will resume virtual sessions in September.  

The final song of our VE Day session in May was "We'll meet again" ... and we all look forward to that day! 

 

Volunteer, David. plays the flute

 

Volunteer, Daphne, plays the clarinet

 

Volunteer, Alastair, plays the French Horn

 

Volunteer, Jan, plays the guitar

IMPORTANT: Although we had mentioned April 14th as a date when we hoped to re-start our sessions it's now become obvious that this will NOT be possible. At the moment we have no idea when it will be safe for groups such as ours to meet again. We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, we aim to keep in touch with you regularly and would love to hear from you to, with any photos you'd like to send.  

 Here's a lovely photo of Edna and Mo, enjoying singing along to the song links Daphne emailed to members last week. My letter to you follows after the photo.

 

 

 

 

31st March 2020

 Dear RtS Friends

 Well, here we all are – embarking upon our second week of “ Stay at Home” ! I wonder how we are all coping in our various situations? For some it means solitude; for others it's a time of painful separation from those we love and some are now stuck with various family members for goodness knows how long. In my case I'm at home with my husband, Jon; my youngest daughter, Imogen, and her husband, Stuart - oh, and Reuben the Black Lab of course! We are not able to visit my eldest daughter, Tamsin, who has learning difficulties and lives in care near Axminster, or mum-in-law, Betty, who is down in Truro, but we are thankful that both are safe and being well looked after by wonderful staff. I know many of our members are also having to put their faith and trust in care staff to look after loved ones with dementia. What heroes these 'key workers' are.

 I do hope you're all managing to keep yourselves supplied with essentials, whether that's by delivery from kind friends in the community or local shops/supermarkets, or by venturing out yourselves armed with vinyl gloves! Isn't if funny how we've changed our habits so quickly? I'm now happy to eat anything (well, I still draw the line at beetroot) and we're using up all the half-empty packets and strange tins that have been languishing in the dark corners of the kitchen cupboards for months. This morning I did an inventory of all cleaning products! One happy tale: I decided to go to Mole Valley Farmers on the basis that they would have some meat and large packs of washing powder, and joined the queue of 'socially distancing' customers waiting be allowed in. Who should join behind me but one of my dearest friends, whom I had not seen for months. I think we entertained the whole queue with our whoops of joy, 'virtual' hugs across two metres and exchanges of family news, delivered in projected voices (we were both teachers, after all …)

 We're distracting ourselves by creating a golf course in our field for son-in-law Stuart, who's a very keen golfer. So far, there's been lots of mowing and rolling to create two fairways and seven tees. A bunker is planned and the duck pond will be the water feature. We're calling it The Duckspool Golf and Country Club. The old hen house will serve as a clubhouse and various old benches will be re-sited for spectators to watch the action. It's amazing how our field, which was a soggy marshmallow only two weeks ago has dried out in the sun and wind and is being transformed!

I haven't had much time for singing but as life settles down into more of a routine I'm hoping that will change. Lots of folk, of all ages, are becoming more adventurous and confident about using the internet as it's become clear that it can be such a lifeline of communication. Here are some exciting ideas:

 Gareth Malone has started an online choir: You have to subscribe https://decca.com/greatbritishhomechorus/

 This is another one – free but you have to down load an app called Zoom

https://thenudge.com/staying-in/the-sofa-singers/

 And there's also something called Quarantine Chorus/Choir to which Daphne's providing a link, singing our very own Breakfast Song!

 Of course one the easiest things to do online is just use YouTube to find the songs you/your loved one likes to sing.

 In our family we now refer to our “BEV”s ( Boris Exercise Vouchers). I use mine up each afternoon, taking Reuben for a walk. He's not so keen on being on his lead and he hates going past gateways where territorial dogs leap out and bark at him. However, he's gradually getting the idea (rather like the rest of us) that this is how it's going to be for a good while yet. It is glorious to be out in the fresh air and to see all the little changes along the same route as Mother Nature sets about Spring. Today we noticed bluebells coming up.

 

Thinking of you all and missing our Tuesday afternoons!

 

Much love from Jan xx