A choir set up specifically for carers in Bridgend County Borough has marked Carers Week (10 – 16 June) by releasing its first original song!

The ‘Off Duty’ choir was formed in January to give local carers some ‘me time’ and a chance to socialise with fellow carers. Less than six months later, they’ve recorded their debut single ‘Strong’ with help from musical director and song writer Izzy Thomas, music producer Phil Curran and students from Bridgend College’s Performing Arts Department.

The song is available for download at www.strongsong.co.uk and all of the proceeds raised will be donated to the Carers UK charity.

To accompany the song the choir have also filmed a World War Two themed music video at Kenfig Nature Reserve, and the choir will be performing ‘Strong’ as part of tomorrow’s Wartime Bridgend event in Bridgend town centre. They’ll be singing on the steps of Carnegie House on Wyndham Street at 1:30pm, and all are welcome to sing along with them.

Describing her own experience as a carer, one of the choir members, Jacky, said: ‘I was a nurse for 43 years, but this is the hardest nursing job I’ve ever had. My husband was a very well respected, very well loved, hardworking man and dementia is totally destroying him.

“I wrote the first line of the song ‘How did we get here, this was never our plan’. The plan for my husband and I was to have a happy retirement at the end of our hardworking lives, but it’s not to be, so all that I can say to everybody else is don’t wait for tomorrow, ever.”

The Off Duty choir has been set up with support from Bridgend County Borough Council, Awen Cultural Trust, and the Bridgend Carers Centre.

Cllr Phillip White, Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help, said:

“The reasons why someone becomes a carer can vary, while the variety of tasks a carer fulfils are just as diverse. The daily pressures that a carer can face often remain hidden from public view. Carers can often find themselves feeling misunderstood, isolated and can suffer from loneliness, but the Off Duty choir ensures that they feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community.

“We are delighted to have supported the formation of the choir and it is fantastic to see that they are doing so well in the small time they’ve had since they were established in January.  

“By raising awareness of carers’ issues, signposting people towards the most appropriate support and information, and encouraging the establishment of carer-friendly communities, we can help take some pressure away, and make their lives a little easier. We will continue to work with our partners to make carers’ roles more manageable.”

The Off Duty choir is open to all carers, and no singing experience is necessary. The choir rehearse every Monday from 11am – 12:30pm in the Evergreen Hall on Angel Street, Bridgend.

Information about support for carers can be found at the carers website, www.carers.org while you can also contact Bridgend County Borough Council’s Carers Development Officer Kathy Proudfoot by calling 01656 643228 or emailing kathy.proudfoot@bridgend.gov.uk.