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New singing groups aim to tackle the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

PUBLISHED: 10:44 27 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:18 27 March 2018

Playing for Cake founder member Tina Blaber-Wegg with Roger Bird, who has only one working vocal chord. Mr Bird, 82, says his speech has improved since joining weekly singing sessions run by Playing for Cake at Sheringham Community Centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Playing for Cake founder member Tina Blaber-Wegg with Roger Bird, who has only one working vocal chord. Mr Bird, 82, says his speech has improved since joining weekly singing sessions run by Playing for Cake at Sheringham Community Centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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A Norfolk-based community music organisation has teamed up with a speech and language therapist, to launch a trio of singing groups for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Members of a British Lung Foundation-supported music group run by community interest company Playing for Cake, which is launching a trio of singing groups for people with Parkinson's disease. Photo: KAREN BETHELLMembers of a British Lung Foundation-supported music group run by community interest company Playing for Cake, which is launching a trio of singing groups for people with Parkinson's disease. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Playing for Cake, which was the idea of professional musician Tina Blaber-Wegg, already runs singing sessions for people with breathing conditions at Sheringham Community Centre in partnership with the north Norfolk Breathe Easy support group, the British Lung Foundation and Kelling Hospital respiratory team.

Because these were so successful, the team decided to expand their work to include supporting people with Parkinson’s disease and, as part of a national ‘Skylarks’ Sing to Beat Parkinson’s initiative, has launched new singing groups in the Fakenham, North Walsham and Cromer areas.

Members of a British Lung Foundation-supported music group run by community interest company Playing for Cake, which is launching a trio of singing groups for people with Parkinson's disease. Photo: KAREN BETHELLMembers of a British Lung Foundation-supported music group run by community interest company Playing for Cake, which is launching a trio of singing groups for people with Parkinson's disease. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The hour-long sessions aim to improve psychological and physical wellbeing and relieve some of the symptoms of the disease.

“We really wanted to bring this service to the people of north Norfolk,” Ms Blaber-Wegg said. “We have fundraised and worked with local Parkinson’s UK groups so that people can have a go, have some fun and hopefully continue coming.”

Members of a British Lung Foundation-supported music group run by community interest company Playing for Cake. Photo: KAREN BETHELLMembers of a British Lung Foundation-supported music group run by community interest company Playing for Cake. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Norwich-based speech and language therapist Louise Lim, who is Playing for Cake’s newest member, said the sessions aimed to complement the work being done by Parkinson’s sufferers’ own therapists.

She added: “Singing can have excellent benefits for communication, including improved voice quality, speech clarity and confidence.”

Playing for Cake founder member Tina Blaber-Wegg with Roger Bird, who has only one working vocal chord. Mr Bird, 82, says his speech has improved since joining weekly singing sessions run by Playing for Cake at Sheringham Community Centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELLPlaying for Cake founder member Tina Blaber-Wegg with Roger Bird, who has only one working vocal chord. Mr Bird, 82, says his speech has improved since joining weekly singing sessions run by Playing for Cake at Sheringham Community Centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Ms Blaber-Wegg, who performed in bands and as a solo artist before gaining a PhD in environmental and social sciences, said the groups aimed to help improve people’s communication skills and their general health and wellbeing.

She said: “These informal singing groups are not choirs and there is no emphasis on polished performances – they are for anyone interested in coming together on a regular basis to enjoy singing with others.”

Playing for Cake founder member Tina Blaber-Wegg (right) with members of a British Lung Foundation-supported music groups she runs at Sheringham Community Centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELLPlaying for Cake founder member Tina Blaber-Wegg (right) with members of a British Lung Foundation-supported music groups she runs at Sheringham Community Centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Skylarks groups, which will run at Colkirk Parish Hall, Lower Common, East Runton, and at Sacred Heart Church Hall, North Walsham, are free until June. For more information, phone 07771 605188, email tina@playingforcake.uk or visit www.playingforcake.uk

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