Singing is good for physical and mental health | Vicky Meets
Vicky meets... Beryl Blandford, member of Bersted Community Choir.
• How long have you been coming to the choir?
I started six months after the choir started, so almost since it began seven years ago. A friend who was a founder member told me about it, but I was moving house at the time and my head was full of that. But when we got settled in I started coming. I am so glad I did!
• Covid-19 has meant that all group singing had to stop. Have you missed it?
It’s been dreadful! We usually go to church on a Sunday and we couldn’t even sing there. I’m so rusty now. It’s a very friendly choir. I didn’t know anyone really when I first started coming, but I have made good friends here. I just love the singing and I love the camaraderie and the friendship. There is a men’s group that formed within the choir and they meet to go walking. It really is a community choir. Before Covid-19 we were about 70 in the choir, and the numbers are building back up again.
• Do people come from further afield than Bognor Regis?
Yes. We have people who come from Littlehampton, Chichester – everyone is welcome. It’s pay-as-you-go, so you just pay your £5 when you come each time. And you don’t have to be able to read music to participate.
• It is said that singing is good for your mental health. Do you think that is true?
Definitely! It’s such an uplifting thing to do. My husband says when I go home on a Tuesday evening he can always tell how happy I am. Singing is also good for physical health, especially things like respiratory conditions. We do exercises that build up your lung capacity.
• Where does you love of singing stem from – did you come from a musical home?
My love of singing came from my mum, who played the piano a bit. My dad sung in a male voice choir when I was small, and I sung in a choir from about the age of eight. When I was nursing it was quite difficult to fit in, but I have always sung with choirs.
• And do you perform as a choir too?
Yes, we have done lots of performances. We even performed in Belgium and sung at the Menin Gate, which was wonderful.
• What sort of songs do you sing?
The repertoire is far-reaching. We sing a range of songs – classical, musical theatre, pop – all sorts. It does challenge us a bit. We did Bohemian Rhapsody without music but with full harmonies! We all thought ‘oh no!’ but we did it.
• What would you say to anyone contemplating joining a choir?
It’s not daunting at all. We’re a friendly lot and we’re all different ages, too. Anyone thinking of joining us should definitely try it. And when you hear those harmonies – oh wow!
• Bersted Community Choir is run by Bersted Arts. For further information visit www.berstedarts.com