Built on the principle of participating and having fun while enjoying the myriad benefits of singing, Skylarks leads weekly choir groups in Bamber Bridge, Farington Moss and Chorley. Launched six years ago and now run by Lostock Hall-born sisters Jane Swarbrick and Louise Swindlehurst, Skylarks’ philosophy is inclusiveness, promising fun, interactive and therapeutic sessions.
âWe are a choir singing for health and wellness, we are inclusive and we all want to help you feel better,â said Louise. âWe have people with dementia and other health issues coming to the choir, it’s about signing up to feel better. One lady said that was a lifeline,â he said. she adds. “It’s a beautiful thing to hear. It’s touching.”
With demand for a growing community choir through Jane’s work with the Alzheimer’s Society Singing for the Brain sessions, Skylarks started with a small funding from Lancashire County Council and has never looked back.
âThe main thing that we’re passionate about is that it’s for everyone: it’s good to be able to go out and sing and feel a little better,â explained Jane. âIt’s very community-driven and inclusive, but saying we also get great sound!
âPeople come and socialize over a cup of tea – a lot of friendships have formed through the group and we have become a big part of the communities we sing in,â she continued. âLoneliness is a problem when you’re old and we have people saying ‘I don’t know what I would do without that’ which is heartwarming knowing that you can make a little difference.
“Some people come in all three groups; it’s so uplifting.”
An estimated 2.8 million people in the UK are choir singers, showing that across the country the positive effects of group singing are increasingly recognized. And with 60 to 80 people at each of their sessions, the Skylarks singers spoke of the “happy buzz” of participating in an activity that “lifts the spirits and makes the sun shine again.”
âIt’s amazing how he grew up,â said Louise. âWe started out with small groups of about ten people sitting in a circle, so getting to where we are now is a big achievement. We don’t take things too seriously; a lot of it is thanks to Jane. she has a great relationship with people and making them feel valued and that helps people gain self-confidence. Making people feel included is so important. “
“It’s great to be a part of it; Louise and I work well together with her background in health and mine in teaching and music – it’s a good combination,” said Jane, the band sometimes performing for events. charities. âThe music itself is powerful, but the band itself is so powerful too.
âThere has been so much research into the health benefits of singing, even on your cardiovascular system,â she added. âIf people are anxious or depressed, we include them and sing uplifting songs; I spoke to a doctor and he told me this was the sort of thing he was considering prescribing because of the many benefits.
âWe had a lady who suffered from dementia and did not speak with her daughter-in-law. Within three weeks her quality of life had improved and she had started talking and communicating. When you hear things like that, it just shows how incredibly powerful this all is. “