Croydon choir’s Palace performance will live in the memory

Croydon’s Singing for the Brain choir performing at Buck House last month

A Croydon-based choir made up of people affected by dementia, has performed at Buckingham Palace.

Croydon’s “Singing for the Brain” group started in 2012 and is run by the Alzheimer’s Society.

The group enjoyed a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to perform for Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra – an Alzheimer’s Society Patron – at a Buckingham Palace event last month celebrating the power of music and its ability to enrich the lives of people affected by dementia.

George and Dot Smith, both 81 years old, were part of the choir performing in front of 350 guests.

The pair met as teenagers and describe their romance as “love at first sight”. They have been attending the group since Dot was diagnosed with dementia in 2015.

The Croydon choir performance at Buckingham Palace last month was accompanied by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

“It was one of the best moments of my life,” George Smith said of the performance at Buckingham Palace.

“It felt amazing to be standing side by side with Dot, and all our friends, singing for Princess Alexandra in such a special setting – we even got a standing ovation!

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for us – one that neither of us will be able to forget in a hurry.

A once in a lifetime occasion for Croydon couple Dot and George Smith

“Dementia is a progressive condition so Dot struggles to remember things that happen each day, but I hope she’ll never forget the feeling we shared together up on that stage.”

The concert included performances from four of HRH’s Patronages – Alzheimer’s Society, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Choir and Wigmore Hall’s Music for Life programme.

Peter Edwards, who leads Signing for the Brain sessions across London, said:
“It was a real honour to take part in this magical event and showcase how Singing for the Brain uses music to give a voice to people living with dementia.

“Our sessions give people an opportunity to live well with dementia by building self-esteem and sharing experiences with people who understand the issues surrounding the condition.

“I’ve seen people who are barely able to speak, transformed by music, singing along to tunes from their past as if their memories are suddenly unlocked.

“Groups like ours can be a lifeline for isolated individuals but having a special invitation to perform for royalty really was a dream come true for us all.”

If you have any questions about dementia, you can call the national dementia helpline on 0300 222 1122.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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