Carol singers are a familiar sight and sound at this time of year, but being part of a choir has transformed the lives of stroke victims like Carmel Philipsz.
Carmel, who teaches at a school in Batley, joined Giving Voice after suffering a stroke 12 months ago.
She was found at her home in Morley by her teenage son, Dominic, just before Christmas last year.
He acted quickly to ensure his mother was given medical attention after recognising the signs of a stroke for a TV campaign.
“Following the stroke I found myself living a sheltered existence going out briefly when accompanied,” said Carmel.
“Attending the choir has helped regain my independence.”
The Leeds-based choir was set up by NHS speech and language therapist Wendy Neill for people struggling with speech or swallowing disorders following a stroke or other impediment.
The choir, comprising about 15 men and women, serves as an aid to their gradual recovery.
Carmel said: “Although I can feel tired afterwards I am energised through singing.
“By learning lyrics and recalling those, it is helping to improve my memory, which was slightly affected after the stroke.
“I have never been part of a choir but I was encouraged to join as I would be with people who have faced similar difficulties to myself.
“I am really glad that I did and I would encourage anyone, no matter what their neurological condition, to come along as it is good fun.”
The group performed publicly for the first time at the Forget Me Knot Festival in Leeds in October and has sung in Leeds’ Trinity Shopping Centre.
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