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Breathing life into song

22 Nov 2019 12:24:39
Breathing Space choir

Our colleagues at Breathing Space, a community service in Rotherham for people with respiratory conditions, marked World COPD Day on November 20 with a range of information events and a special performance by their very own choir.

Scores of people attended the day-long event for a cup of tea and a chat and to learn more about respiratory diseases, pulmonary rehabilitation taster sessions and smoking cessation.

The Breathing Space choir regaled the audience by performing a number of well-known songs – including a few tearjerkers – and they even threw in a George Ezra hit, to everyone's delight. This was followed by tea and cakes while people milled about the information stalls, in which our team members discussed their specialist services.

Breathing Space is the biggest pulmonary rehabilitation service in the country. It aims to improve people's breathlessness through exercise and education, individually tailored to the needs of the person, helping them feel confident enough to manage their respiratory condition and improve their quality of life.

Jenny Simmonite, a member of the Breathing Space choir, spoke about how she copes with her respiratory condition.

“It is scary when you can’t get your breath and what you tend to do is you panic breathe, so you breathe fast and it’s really not doing anything because what you’ve got to do is breathe slowly. But when you can’t get your breath your brain says breathe as fast as you can so you’re doing all the wrong things.”

She said she liked the social side of being in the Breathing Space choir. “It is the contact with people too. The choir is a good team.”

For others, the choir gives them something else.

“The choir makes me feel normal for a whole hour,” said Judith Dalton. “I do the exercise maintenance programme, and the support staff in there, the physiotherapists, everyone is really nice.”

Chris Happer, choir member and service user, was diagnosed with a respiratory illness four years ago and was told he had five years to live. He spoke about how the facilities at Breathing Space have helped him.

“I see my consultant every six months and he does a test to see how my condition is. The deterioration seems to be due to the industrial environments I have worked in all my life, confined spaces, land blasting.”

Chris, who had existing heart issues, was experiencing difficulties with breathing a few years ago and went to the doctor who diagnosed him with Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonia (NSIP).

Chris said: “The lungs will never recover. I had given up work which was a big thing for me. I come here once a week to the gym and the choir. I have nine grandchildren and I do everything possible. The facilities here are brilliant. It is good that I can go here once a week doing things I wouldn’t be doing without the facilities here. These help me maintain my stability.”

For more information on Breathing Space, click here.

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