Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Donizetti and Dementia

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 29th January, 2015

Grosvenor ChapelDonizettiDementia is a growing problem in the UK as the population grows older, but at least there is a growing understanding of the needs of people with dementia and of their carers. It affects people from all walks of life, even the affluent burghers of Mayfair, which is why the Grosvenor Chapel in South Audley Street runs a programme of Hymns and Pimms, occasions for those living with dementia or memory loss or who care for someone who does to come together for friendship, singing and refreshments in beautiful surroundings. Last night, the church hosted an Opera Gala, compered with camp good humour by Anthony Harris, and starring Ellie Edmonds, Samuel Pantcheff, Sophie Pullen and William Smith, with Elliott Launn on the piano. The group performed arias from opera, predominantly Mozart and Donizetti, the candlelit church proving to have excellent acoustics. Most of the repertoire was about love and intrigue, some of it quite saucy, and although the priest blanched somewhat when Sophie Pullen hung laundry on the edge of the pulpit in one extract, the spirit of fun clearly enthused the audience and several thousand pounds were raised to continue the church’s work with people with dementia and carers.

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4 Responses to “Donizetti and Dementia”

  1. Amy Dalrymple said

    Hi Jonathan, I work with Alzheimer Scotland and love opera so was intrigued by your post when I saw it on facebook! That sounds like a great night in a great cause – and I love the idea of ‘Hymns and Pimms’ – and will tell my colleagues who work in communities about it. Just one wee work about language, though – the term ‘senile dementia’ isn’t an accurate one, and many people with dementia who we work with and who have taken part in other studies and consultations about this, have pointed out that it is offensive to them. Similarly, we talk about ‘people with dementia’ rather than ‘dementia sufferers’ because people are more than their dementia, and they live with it – and in many cases, live well with it – not just suffer from it. This http://dementiavoices.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/DEEP-Guide-Language.pdf is a useful reference. I know that you did not mean to offend at all – quite the opposite – but changing the language we use is an important part of getting rid of the stigma around dementia, which prevents many people with dementia and their families and carers from seeking and getting the support they need. I hope ‘Hymns and Pimms’ goes from strength to strength!

  2. jonathanfryer said

    Many thanks for your helpful comments, Amy. I will amend accordingly when I have a spare moment later today.

  3. Amy Dalrymple said

    *Like* 🙂

  4. Daniel kaitiff said

    Sounds like something to look forward to. My patients I am sure would love a bit of hymn and pimms. Keep up the good work of reporting these events. Is the Alzheimer’s society aware of this?

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