MLMC Trustee Paul Scarrott tells us about his experience in a sign-singing choir...

I joined the Handy Voices Choir after seeing them at this year’s ROAR Festival and thinking they were really good. I spoke to Christine, the leader, and she told me to come along.

They hold their group on a Monday night at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre in Oxford from 7.15 until 9pm.

I’ve been to five sessions now and I am really enjoying it. We don’t sing at all, we do it all through British Sign Language (BSL). Christine stands at the front and teaches us the signs.

Even though I am partially deaf, I didn’t know any BSL before I joined the choir. It’s not easy but I do enjoy it. The people I have met are really nice and friendly - like a big family, who all support each other.

The first session is free, and then it costs £5 per session. Or you can become a member, which is £50 a year but means you can go to as many sessions as you like.

I became a full member two weeks ago. Although it sounds expensive it’s actually saved me money because I used to go to Bingo and spend £30 there every Monday. It’s also worth it because it’s really fun and I have learnt a lot of BSL.

We’ve started to learn the songs for our Christmas performance – including Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Silent Night, and Let It Snow.

We will be performing on Sunday 19th November at the Christmas Lights Festival in Oxford.

We will also be performing on Tuesday 19th December at our Christmas Stingray Nightclub.

At the moment, I am the only person in the choir with a learning disability. But I think other people should join because it’s really good fun, and I would be happy to support somebody to go if they needed some support.

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