We are proud of what we have achieved and would like to share our story. It has been a privilege to come together as a community and to provide an all-inclusive choir to all generations; mums, dads, carers, grandparents, children, professionals and adults.
All abilities come together in the choir and it maximises communication skills and opportunities to make new friends and the result has been over whelming.
The choir is run by myself Sharon Parnell (Makaton Regional Tutor), Naomi Parnell, Rowan Allen, Dan Oliver and Ollie Fuller. We have one session per month and have been so impressed everyone’s commitment and drive to learn. There is a huge sense of belonging and being a part of something at the choir, all while learning new communication skills and Makaton signs.
We have watched the choir grow in popularity and skill over the last few months and most importantly people’s confidence has flourished. We had a special visit from Susan Greenhough (retired Senior Tutor) and she felt ‘the enthusiasm and enjoyment of everyone was wonderful’. Susan trained myself to be a Regional Tutor from 2003 - this gave me a pathway to share my knowledge with others and bring everyone together.
We have been lucky enough to be sponsored by Parnell Coaches who arranged for us to have our own unique choir polo shirts with the Makaton logo incorperated into the design, which we all proudly wear. Having a sponsor has allowed us to develop the choir further by having inclusive and appropriate instruments for all to use, as well as other equipment to enable us to run it to a professional standard.
As the choir progressed we invited the town mayor, Henry Brown, to come along and support us. He did so by greeting everyone and signing the alphabet with the rest of the choir. Because of this the choir had an article in the local paper explaining what we provide and more information and awareness of Makaton in our community. Since then we have had other visits from town councillors: one said, ‘I had a lump in my throat when I visited’. Councillors unanimously agreed to provide a sum of money to help cover the costs of our first Christmas party, which we gratefully accepted.
At present the choir’s favourite song is ‘This is me’ by Keala Settle. This song is powerful, uplifting and relatable by all in the choir. We also sing a wide variety of songs from country classics, ballads, silly songs, and chart material. Parents and carers have commented on many occasions how the choir brings tears to their eyes and how they feel a huge sense of pride watching the adults and young people perform.
We meet on the first Friday of each month at the local rugby club to practice and perform our signs and songs. The rugby club has been very accommodating, and they provide the perfect space for the choir with a large outside area and facilities for refreshments.
Makaton Sing and Sign Choir is open to anyone to come along to: we charge £5 per person (carers are free) to cover the costs and room hire.