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Kudos to Vicky McClure for showing a side of dementia many people are not aware of

By Nina Steele 

Vicky McClure Our Dementia ChoirVicky McClure is without doubt a great actress. She first came to my attention in the BBC drama ‘The Replacement’ 2 years ago. At the time, I wrote not only about her astounding performance in that show, but also about the way she handled the motherhood question. Back then she said this about being constantly asked when she was planning to start a family: “If this was a bloke that would never happen. It’s none of your bloody business”. Fans of ‘Line of Duty’, which I am now one, will of course know her as DI Kate Fleming. In ‘Our Dementia Choir’, a two-part documentary for the BBC, she highlights the power of music on people suffering from dementia.

In my 8 years working for an old people’s charity, I witnessed first-hand the devastating effect dementia has not only on the people that suffer from it, but also on those caring for them. It is a heartbreaking condition, and the hopelessness that is associated with it is made worse by the fact that it has no cure.

In ‘Our Dementia Choir’, we learn that contrary to popular belief, the brain does not completely stop working once a person has dementia. It seems that music has a positive impact on those suffering from the disease in that it stimulates their brain. Vicky McClure’s grandmother suffered from dementia, hence her involvement with the show. Just like those taking part in the documentary, her grandmother too came alive whenever music was played.

Those performing in the choir, all suffering from dementia, showed how much good music can do. It goes without saying that having a choir of that nature was never going to be easy. But with a lot of practice and dedication, participants were able to remember the words for the two songs they were made to sing. One of those songs was ‘Stand by Be’, which as some may remember, was sung at last year’s royal wedding.

I saw what the power of music can do in my old job. The old people’s charity I worked for had a day centre where old people came to spend the day. War time songs where favourites and they all sang with so much passion that we the staff often joined in. Many of them had dementia, yet during those moments, you couldn’t tell the dementia sufferers from the others. I will always treasure those moments. One song particularly although not a war time song, became a sort of anthem for the centre. It is the 1956 song ‘Que Sera Sera’, sang by Doris Day. Even though I left the charity in 2015, to this day, whenever I hear that song played, I feel a great pull on my heart and my mind automatically returns to those moments and the people.

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