Borders choir tune up for disability awards date

The Keys to Life Choir will take to the stage at the Scottish Learning Disability Awards at Edinburgh's Sheraton Hotel
The Keys to Life Choir will take to the stage at the Scottish Learning Disability Awards at Edinburgh's Sheraton Hotel
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A choir from the Scottish Borders for people with a learning disability has been invited to perform at a major awards ceremony this month.

The Keys to Life Choir will take to the stage at the Scottish Learning Disability Awards at the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh this Friday, 17 May.

The choir is led by Sandy Devers, chief executive officer of Streets Ahead, and Claire Taylor, team manager with the Richmond Fellowship Scotland, both of whom are musicians and singers.

Taylor is the conductor and is assisted by Devers, who plays guitar and bagpipes.

The choir is named after The Keys to Life – Scotland’s strategy for supporting people with learning disabilities to have great lives.

It meets twice a month in Galashiels and Hawick. Members of all ages have spent the past few sessions practising for their big night.

The group covers a wide range of songs, from the Proclaimers and Abba to numbers from the Sound of Music. Everyone has their own favourites, but they also enjoy the challenge of learning something new.

Devers said: “We started the choir for people with a learning disability and their carers and families.

“We love singing together as a group. We make everyone feel welcome and the emphasis is on fun and taking part. We all encourage each other, and friendship is important – the group always has a break for coffee and a chat.

“Although fun is the key, there is much hard work and concentration involved in learning the music and words. It has been great to make new friends and sing together.”

Around 25 people from the Borders will attend the event in Edinburgh, with families, carers and support workers joining the choir members.

Helen, one of the choir members said: “I’m really excited about performing at the Sheraton, but I am a bit nervous. We are all going to do our very best on the night and sing our hearts out. I like coming to the choir because I get to meet new people and sing great songs.”

Helen’s mother Susan Rodger said: “We started going in September and Helen loves being a part of something that’s got a purpose. Not only do they sing together, which is good fun, they’re all very supportive of each other and it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember the words.

“They work towards things and the performance at the Sheraton is a reason for doing it, which is what Helen likes.”

The Scottish Learning Disability Awards, organised by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD), provide an opportunity to celebrate, on a national level, the rarely-heard stories and achievements of people with learning disabilities and the people who support them.

Linda Mitchell, SCLD partnership & development manager, said: “The Scottish Learning Disability Awards are about highlighting the talents of people with learning disabilities and The Keys to Life Choir is a perfect example of this.”

See a video of the choir at https://vimeo.com/309728011