Founded in June 2012 Bolton Cancer Voices is an inspirational, welcoming Choir open to anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis of any type at any time. We have members newly diagnosed and in treatment, some living with cancer as a non-curable condition and others who are cancer survivors, now many years on from their diagnosis. This is our only criterion for membership, which is free. We currently have 40+ members and aspire to become 70 strong: with no less than 14 individual tumour groups represented by one or more members. We have no geographical restrictions, as long as people can travel to Bolton for rehearsals.
When the Choir was established there was very little in the way of social or emotional support for cancer patients and even less for cancer survivors. We wanted to address this in a non-clinical, innovative, enjoyable and inspirational way.
The Choir provides a positive, motivational and diversionary environment where members have fun, enjoy the challenges and exhilaration of performing and have a focus aside from their illness. It offers an informal forum to meet with others in a similar situation and benefit from mutual support and understanding.
Nobody knows better than our members that receiving a cancer diagnosis can be life changing: joining Bolton Cancer Voices can be life affirming! You will never meet a more amazing, fun-loving, positive and inspirational group of people than the members of Bolton Cancer Voices, who despite any health issues they may be experiencing embrace life and live it to the full. When Surveyed, 80% of respondents reported that they felt they had benefited physically, mentally or emotionally from being in the Choir with stated outcomes including improved breathing, increased energy levels, a more positive outlook and an increased sense of well-being.
But we didn’t want the impact of the Choir to be solely limited to our members, thus we are not merely a group who come together to share our love of singing. By undertaking public and private performances, we represent a symbol of hope for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer and indeed we have many instances where we have provided just that.
Though cancer brings the Choir together it is not allowed to define or restrict us: we are a community Choir like any other with a full programme of appearances and activities together with many dreams and aspirations!
We rehearse weekly for 1½ hours, with a half hour prior to rehearsal when people can have a brew and a chat, if they wish: this may be cancer related or merely a catch up with someone in a different section to themselves. Everyone has their own approach, whilst some choose to leave their cancer at the door and have time when their head is clear of all such thoughts, others find it useful and reassuring to know that there is always someone who will lend a listening ear, share their experience or truly be in a position to empathize with the physical, practical, emotional, social and psychological journey they are on.
On average we undertake around 6 concerts / appearances a year and are quite proactive in seeking out opportunities. When planning the year ahead, our first consideration is always what the activity will bring to the lives of our members: what new experience, challenge, learning; what precious memory are we creating; will it be fun, what’s different about it etc.
Some of the highlights to date include our annual ‘Jingle Bell Sing-A-Long’ concert in the Victoria Hall at Christmas, where our guest musicians have been either Besses o’ th’ Barn Band or The Greater Manchester Police Band: appearing at the Christmas Celebration of Greater Manchester Police in Manchester Cathedral; recording our first CD; being filmed for BBC Northwest Tonight and a joint Christmas concert with northern legends - The Houghton Weavers.
Other noteworthy activities include various singing and performance workshops; two Look Good Feel Better Masterclasses; our first Christmas meal together and development of our website.