As a respected choir leader and founder of the Golden-Oldies ‘Sing&Smile’ Charity, Grenville Jones has added his voice to the call for clearer Government guidance on the future of amateur singing indoors.
Yesterday in the House of Commons Bath MP Wera Hobhouse asked this question.
Ms Hobhouse said;
“Our wonderful choirs and choral societies exist across the country. Unlike professional organisations, amateur choirs are not allowed to rehearse in groups of more than six indoors, although the Covid risk is exactly the same. Does the current Government not recognise the contribution that voluntary organisations and amateur choirs make to society at large?
“In the West we have the Golden-Oldies Charity that uses singing to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst older people.”
The Golden-Oldies Charity, fondly known as ‘Goldies’ was started by Grenville Jones in Bath 13 years ago it has grown across England and Wales to the point, prior to Lockdown, that 220 fun daytime singalong sessions attracted hundreds of older people. These take place in Church halls, Libraries and community rooms. Everyone is welcome and attendees include adults with learning difficulties and those living with Dementia.
The ethos is simple, to give those who live lonely lives fun events to look forward to with the accent firmly on the social benefits of being together.
Grenville has been associated with choirs for the last 30 years and prior to Lockdown was running 22 choirs across the West of England, seven of which he conducted himself each week.
“Together with choir leaders and those involved in amateur music across the UK we are all looking ahead to June 21st with apprehension… will the relaxation of rules come into place that will enable us again to meet together indoors to sing?
“For myself, this not only means that my choirs can start to sing in the afternoon and evenings but it also means that we can restart our fun singalong sessions with the 60 freelance leaders that are at the heart of our Goldies Charity.
“These take place from Bradford to Cornwall and from Essex across to the whole of South Wales (Goldies Cymru).
“We all understand the health risks but, as Ms Hobhouse pointed out we ask why there are rules for professional singers but no regard for amateurs.
“Many thousands enjoy singing as a hobby and the effect on the wellbeing of those people cannot be underestimated. I know myself how desperate folk are to get back to their singing group again and we look to our Government to tell us exactly what the situation is.
“Hopefully this will be made clear within the next few days so we can again start to plan our rehearsals across the United Kingdom.”
Together with many others Grenville has taken to the internet these past few months. He has been leading Zoom singing sessions with two of his choirs each week as well as leading a pre-recorded Wednesday Online choir with over 300 members from across the World.
The Charity launched www.goldieslive.com soon after the first Lockdown and there are now two weekly fun online sessions, accessed via YouTube and Facebook as well as a dedicated Welsh language session, once a month.
Picture Caption …. All together again?