St Albans musicians helping dementia sufferers to recall memories

Chief executive David Clement-Horton and Gaynor Steer

Chief executive David Clement-Horton and Gaynor Steer - Credit: Archant

A charity of musicians who help dementia sufferers remember their past is hosting a ball in Harpenden next month.

Forget Me Not Musicians, who have just become a registered charity, organise professional tribute acts to perform for free in care homes across Hertfordshire.

The familiar music evokes memories in people who had previously lost all connections with their past through the mental illness.

People with dementia endure memory loss, problems with language, disorientation, poor judgement, problems losing things, and changes in mood or behaviour.

Chief executive David Clement-Horton discovered he could provoke flashbacks when playing for free in a care home: “If you go into a care home as a visitor they normally have bad music, because the care home can’t afford to pay musicians - so you normally get a singer singing to a backing track and not interacting with the audience.

“When I do play to dementia patients, you see a huge change in them, I see them remembering things whereas previously they couldn’t.

“There are people who don’t remember anything about their past and you play a special song and it’s like unlocking a part of their brain.” Tribute acts include Vera Lynn, The Andrews Sisters, The Everly Brothers, and Elvis Presley. David himself plays Maurice Gibb in a tribute act - the Bootleg Bee Gees.

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Dressing up and performing the songs helps dementia sufferers “see and feel” the acts.

All of the musicians will be paid a professional wage - in order to not undermine the gigging industry.

The fortchoming dinner and dance black tie ball is called World without Dementia, and is being put on with the help of the The Skew Bridge pub. It will take place on September 2 at 7.30pm in Harpenden Common Golf Club.

Confirmed prizes for the auction include a signed Christina Kubrick print, a meal for four at the Needham House Hotel, shopping vouchers, and singing lessons with Mia Chevais.

All tickets are now sold out, but the charity are currently looking for auction hamper prizes - for example wine - and hampers of any shape, size or colour.

Donations should be bought to 4 Front Street, Slip End or contact Janet at