Sheffield’s First Cancer Choir

Despite being only a month-old, Sheffield’s first cancer choir has already hit the ground running.

With one performance booked for Christmas Day and one for a major event next year, their weekly rehearsal is set to be in full swing. The choir’s founder Darrell Re said: “Weston Park Hospital wants us to come to the wards to sing on Christmas, which would be lovely and we would be practising six weeks prior to the event. And then we were booked for a bigger event by South Yorkshire Cancer Alliance, which would be in May or June. Hopefully, there’s not much pressure!”

Mrs Re, who had survived breast cancer under the wonderful care of Weston Park Hospital, set up the cancer choir with two of her friends, Liz Clay and Joanne Hockney, as a way to give back to the community. The former nurse from High Green said the choir could be a form of therapy for anyone directly or indirectly affected by cancer and at the same time raising funds for the hospital. And with about 20 people turning up at their first rehearsal last Wednesday, it looks like the choir is off to a great start.

“I’m absolutely pleased and thrilled. There are enough people here to sustain a choir and if we can keep about 20 people, that should be sustainable. I think if more people get to hear about us, they will come as part of support services,” said Mrs Re. Not only does the choir let the members sing along to their favourite tunes, but it also connects people from all walks of life.

For 66-year-old cancer survivor Jenny Laird, the choir is nothing but a pleasant experience for her. “I was initially a bit apprehensive about coming, where lots of people may have had cancer so I thought it would be strange but it’s really nice. When they said we might be singing at the hospital on Christmas, I think I would probably start crying,” said the former Weston Park Hospital patient.

Meanwhile, Liz’s daughter Rosie, said she took part in the rehearsal to show moral support to the crew. The 22-year-old said: “I love to sing and with my mum, being Darrell’s friend, it’s just nice to be here with them. And Joanne used to be my singing teacher, so we are all connected. I hope more people can come along and see how nice it is here because you never know who’s been affected by cancer. I’ve never known anyone who has suffered apart from Darrell, but I can imagine if we lost a relative or a friend, so it would be nice to come here and talk about it because it’s not just about singing but about supporting each other as well.”

Apart from sponsorships, Mrs Re said the choir is still looking for volunteers, along with a musical director and a pianist. 

“I would be looking at perhaps the big football clubs and some large companies in Sheffield because we do need that sponsorship to sustain,” she said.

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