Barnoldswick school hits all the right notes with patients

Children from St Joseph’s Primary School in Barnoldswick have been making weekly visits to Pendleside Hospice to sing with a number of patients living with dementia.

Eight children from the West Close Road school – which was the first group of the children in the UK to receive Dementia Friend status in 2014 – have been making weekly visits to meet staff and patients at the hospice’s Living with Dementia sessions.

The children have also been rehearsing singing Susan Maughan’s 1960s hit song, Bobby’s Girl, with the patients so they’re ready to perform together at a concert later this month. They will also be walking around a maypole during the performance.

The seaside-themed concert, which takes place on Wednesday 22 May, is being hosted by Dementia Positive Pendle at Christ Church on Carr Road in Nelson as part of Dementia Action Week.

Julia O’Neill, Pendleside Hospice’s day service, family support and outpatient manager, explained the impact the children’s weekly visits have had on the patients.

She said: “You could see everyone’s faces light up when they saw the children coming into day services. This song has been chosen because it was a hit in the early 60s and we could tell some of the patients remember it.

“The whole process has provoked a real sense of nostalgia and the children spread the feelgood factor wherever they go, they’re a credit to their school. Everyone at Pendleside is really looking forward to the performance in a few weeks’ time.”

Dementia Action Week takes place from 20-26 May and is designed to unite individuals, workplaces and communities to take action and improve the lives of people living with dementia.

Louise Catlow, the teaching assistant from St Joseph’s who originally set up the school’s association with Dementia Friends, said: “It’s so nice to take a step back and see the children interacting with the patients here. It all started with one of our visits to Cravenside nursing home in Barnoldswick, which we do every half term.

“One of the children asked why the residents were holding dolls as if they were real babies and that started us on the journey to educating the children about the effects of dementia and memory loss.

“They’re really enjoying visiting the hospice and chatting with the patients – they are openly talking to the children about their memories from when they were a similar age, which is lovely to see. They like that they’re making such a difference to these people’s lives and we’re really looking forward to seeing them perform together at the concert.”