A CHOIR for dementia sufferers is proving to be a huge hit in Rossendale after almost trebling its membership within a month.

The group, which meets weekly in St Mary’s Chambers, in Rawtenstall, started out with just six singers in March.

It now boasts 16 regulars from across the Valley and has secured additional funding with help from Rossendale charity REAL.

Singing coach and choir leader Janet Swan puts the songbirds through their paces every Wednesday, teaching new songs and old favourites.

Dymphna Pepper, 83, from Haslingden, is one of those enjoying a new lease of life through her singing. She said: “I really enjoy it and it’s good to get people together. It is a joy.”

Her carer, Vicky Clarke, said: “Sometimes Dymphna can struggle to get her words out but when she is singing she never forgets the words.”

Bill Greenwood, 82, from Rawtenstall, was a star singer in his youth for the choir at Edgworth Methodist Church.

His wife Betty said he enjoyed coming to the dementia choir.

She said: “He really enjoys singing and because the words are on a big screen he can read them himself and sing along. I think Janet is a wonderful teacher. I can’t sing but I enjoy the exercises she teaches us. I think it is brilliant.

“It gives Bill something to do rather than just sit at home and fall asleep.”

Pat Smith, community development worker at REAL, said: “Music can have an amazing effect on people with dementia, it can help to calm them and they benefit from singing in the company of others.

“Sometimes it can be the only time the person is able to verbalise and talk.

“For carers and loved ones it is a chance to have their relative back, even if just for a short while.”

The choir meets at the Haslingden Road venue from 1.30pm to 3.30pm every Wednesday.