16 May 2019
Actor Helen McCrory, OBE, was the VIP speaker at a concert of NHS choirs from across London who came together for the very first time to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.
Camden and Islington NHS Trust’s own choir, which was set up three years ago and includes staff and service users, was the star turn at the event at UNISON’s HQ in Euston on Thursday 16 May.
The other choirs included youngsters from Camden Youth Choirs, The Whittington’s Sing for Your Lungs Choir, and the chart-topping Lewisham and Greenwich NHS singers.
Helen, whose many film, theatre and television roles include Narcissa Malfoy in the final two Harry Potter Films and Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders was recently awarded an OBE for her services to drama. She is Patron of the Sir Hubert Von Herkomer Arts Foundation which is dedicated to helping give children a gateway to the arts, providing them with the inspiration and the tools to develop lifelong artistic passions.
Helen told the audience: “More and more, mental health is no longer being whispered about in corridors. It’s not a ‘them and us’ situation. We are all in it together and this is what we are celebrating this evening.
“Stop whispering and let’s shout our lungs out in support. Some of the people in this room have been to hell and back and some of us will be to hell and back in the future and we are all in it together. We salute you and we salute ourselves and we will blast the roof off in support of that.”
Among other choirs taking to the stage was the Mind and Soul choir from South London and Maudsley, and singers from Oxleas NHS Trust. UNISON’s own choir kicked off the event with ‘Count on Me’ saying this ‘reflected their ethos perfectly.”
The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir who got to number one in 2015 with ‘A Bridge Over You’ were given a rousing reception. Their chart-topping success was helped by US singer, Justin Bieber, who urged his 72 million Twitter followers to buy the charity single rather than his own.
A highlight of the evening was singers from Camden Youth Choirs, who were invited to perform to underline how important it is for youngsters to look after and be aware of their mental health.
Trust Chair Leisha Fullick said: “We are thrilled to be hosting this very first NHS London choirs concert during Mental Health Awareness Week with such a range of talented and diverse choirs.
“Having both acute and mental health trusts perform alongside each other flags up the inarguable link between physical and mental health, as well as the huge benefits of singing for the whole body, mind and soul. We hope this will be the first of many such concerts.”