Sue Ryder's £41K "Life Full of Love" music therapy appeal for Fulwood neurological centre

Do you love music? If the answer is yes the Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre at Fulwood is hoping you'll share that love.

By Fiona Finch
Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 4:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 4:38 pm

The centre is seeking donations to its 'Life Full of Love' fund to finance a year of music therapy for clients coping with long term neurological conditions or having rehabilitation therapy for neurological problems, for example following a stroke or brain injury.

The therapy was introduced on a trial basis for six months and has proved so successful that now the Centre wants to extend it. Research has shown that, used alongside other rehabilitation techniques, such music therapy can dramatically transform the rehabilitation of brain injury survivors.

Music therapist Clare Maddocks said: "‘Neurologic Music Therapy uses musical elements such as rhythm, melody or pitch to connect with the brain."

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Charlie and Clare in a one to one therapy session Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

She said a client's automatic response to music "allows healthy and unaffected parts of the brain to be recruited, allowing patients to relearn functions such as movement or speech."

Clare continued: "It also provides an invaluable safe space for the processing and expression of emotional and psychological needs without always having that pressure to put it into words."

For Charlie (Charmaine) Botfield-Clarke, who collapsed in Blackpool in February 2020, the music has enabled her to express herself in a way she could not in conversation. Her family was told the mum-of-two was lucky to survive after she collapsed on the way to collect her youngest daughter from the school bus. Now, 18 months after she suffered a life-changing bleed on the brain, the music therapy is helping the 39-year-old reconnect with her family.

Charlie’s mother Sara Teresa Ashmore said: "She went to hospital, they did a scan and transferred her straight away to Preston. Fortunately she was operated on within three hours. It happened at 4.30pm and she was in theatre at 7.30pm. The surgeons told us that she would be severely brain damaged but she still has her personality and her sense of humour -she doesn’t suffer fools gladly! She remembers things from the past but her short term memory is very bad."

Thanks to music therapy Charlie has written a song for her children

Through music therapy sessions Charlie, who as a child used to collect sheet music as a hobby and also played the violin, managed to write a song which is an expression of her love for her children Lauren, 22, and Scarlet, 15.

Sessions provided her with opportunities to take a direct role in the process, from creating lyrics to choosing musical content from choices presented by Clare, as well as making a recording to share. Charlie has since spoken of how the writing and recording of her song left her feeling 'proud', and of how the song is about reassurance for her daughters, but it also provides comfort when she is missing her family.

Sara Teresa said: "The music therapy has been so beneficial because Charmaine always loved music. The first opportunity we had we took a radio into the Sue Ryder centre for her so she could listen to her music. Music takes you right down memory lane and it is such a powerful thing. When she told me about the song she said she had written it for her girls and that it was from the heart. It’s just beautiful. I cried when I heard it.

‘We know it will be slow progress but we think she is doing really well at Sue Ryder. Slowly but surely my daughter is coming back. I’m just happy that she is there and that she is well looked after. I know she is happy there and I can have a good conversation with her and reason with her which is great.’

Music therapist Clare Maddocks leads a group music therapy session at the Fulwood centre

The therapies team at Sue Ryder wanted to use Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) to help with clients’ cognitive, behavioural, emotional and psychological needs. The Post was invited to watch a group music therapy session. We saw how different clients joined in using mini instruments to help accompany Clare who sang and played the keyboard choosing memorable and well loved songs. For some clients just being there was progress, others wanted to join in all the way through.

.Clare, who works for arts therapy organisation Chroma, said: "Music Thtrapy has regularly provided new information on clients that may not have been observed previously, such as helping to build new neuro pathways for limb movement or identifying that an individual benefits best from visual and auditory stimuli when presented with new information."

She cites one example, when working with a client with an impaired left arm, Clare supported her to use her affected arm to use wind chimes, which by the end of the session, she was able to play independently. She had a physio session immediately after during which she was able to initiate, without verbal prompts, completing exercises with her left hand, which she had not been able to do until that point.

Clare also has one to one individual therapy sessions with clients.

Sue Ryder clients can use or be helped to use different instruments, such as these chimes, during the music therapy sessions

Centre staff have reported that both the group and individual sessions have provided a lifeline for many clients who may struggle to communicate effectively. It has helped them to improve not just their communication skills but independence, self-awareness and awareness of others, plus improve their concentration and attention skills. It has also helped cut social isolation because music therapy can be performed safely and at a social distance. This has been particularly important during the pandemic when many traditional social gatherings and complementary therapies had to be postponed.

Hannah Halliwell, Head of Therapy Services at the centre said: ‘Music Therapy has been a real lifeline for so many of our clients who struggle to communicate effectively. It allows them to remain emotionally and physically connected through shared music-making and greatly improves their quality of life. This project has been hugely successful and has helped us to create the best environment for our clients to thrive in their everyday lives."

Centre director Chris Walbank said: "At the centre we are constantly striving to ensure we are at the forefront of modernising neurological care and we are continuously trying to introduce impactful new therapies such as music therapy. By donating to our 'Life full of Love' fundraising campaign you will help us offer a life-line to so many of our clients who struggle to communicate effectively."

He said the pilot music therapy programme had: "offered our clients immeasurable social, physical and emotional benefits, helping to develop their communication and interpersonal skills and enabling them to live more fulfilling and happier lives."

Chris added that the extra finanical pressures caused by the pandemic meant they were looking for donations. He said: "Now more than ever, we are relying on the generosity of the public to raise £41,000 and ensure we can continue to deliver music therapy and other cathartic therapies over the next year that can be life-changing for people living with neurological conditions.

To donate see: or here ,

A Sue Ryder client keeps time, enjoying the rhythm of the music

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Clare sings songs and plays the keyboard during the socially distanced music therapy session