Flashmob choir sing their hearts out for a dementia friendly Christmas

2 Dec 2011

An award winning choir group, Crystal Chords descended on a Tesco Superstore in Cheetham Hill, Manchester yesterday afternoon to surprise shoppers with a Christmas carol.

An award winning choir group, Crystal Chords descended on a Tesco Superstore in Cheetham Hill, Manchester yesterday afternoon to surprise shoppers with a Christmas carol.

The singers are supporting Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer Scotland and Tesco to raise awareness of dementia during the festive season and help people have a dementia friendly Christmas. From today, people are being encouraged to sign up for an online advent calendar that carries daily tips and advice for enjoying the festive season from celebrities, dementia support workers and others living with dementia - from boosting the senses with some time outdoors, to making Christmas more manageable.

The 30-strong ladies barbershop chorus  stunned Tesco customers when they broke into a capella harmony with the old classic ‘Jingle Bells’ in the middle of the busy supermarket. The carol flashmob can be viewed at www.alzheimers-tesco.org.uk or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT5-0d0_Nh4&feature=player_embedded

Andrew Brown, Tesco store manager said: “The flashmob took both our staff and customers by complete surprise, creating a wonderfully Christmassy atmosphere to kick-start the festive season. Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland are our charity of the year and as a store we’ve been doing lots to fund raise for them this year, so we’re delighted to be hosting this fantastic event for such a worthwhile cause.”

Many relatives first notice memory problems when they visit family members over Christmas. In fact, Alzheimer's Society had a forty-three per cent increase in calls to the helpline in January from family members worried about a loved one.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive, Alzheimer's Society says: “This flashmob was a chance to entertain people and have a bit of Christmas fun, but we have a serious message to share too. If you haven’t seen a relative for a while, you might be more aware of changes in their behaviour. If you do become concerned about a loved one’s memory then get in touch with a dementia helpline and sign up for our advent calendar with daily tips and advice for a dementia friendly Christmas.”

The online advent also has three opportunities to win £200 of Tesco vouchers so you can get your festive shop for free this Christmas. Sign up for the calendar at www.alzheimers-tesco.org.uk

The flashmob was three months in the planning, with only Tesco store manager Andrew Brown, Crystal Chords Musical Director Monica Funnell, and a couple of support staff from the Alzheimer’s Society and Tesco partnership teams in the know. The choir visited the shop individually when doing their weekly shops to plan the logistics and practised the song in secrecy at their regular venue.

Example tips and advice in the calendar include:

Fiona Phillips, TV presenter and Alzheimer's Society ambassador: “I know first hand the devastating impact Alzheimer's has for those living with the disease and their families. Christmas is such a wonderful time of year but it can also be very stressful. It’s so important for families to support each other, both emotionally and practically. Just being on the end of a phone or offering to do the shopping can be a big help for someone caring for a person living with dementia”

Katrina Walker, Tesco funded Dementia Support Worker in Worksop: "If someone with dementia joins you for Christmas day, try not to overload their plate at dinner time. Although many people eat a lot on special occasions, a very full plate can be quite daunting for someone who has difficulties eating. It also may be useful to provide a different coloured table cloth to plate to allow them to distinguish between the two."

Together, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland are Tesco Charity of the Year and hope to raise £5 million to help build a better future for people with dementia. The partnership is funding new research, dementia support professionals to help those living with the condition, and a Dementia Community Roadshow that is travelling around the UK raising awareness of dementia and encouraging people worried about their memory to visit their GPs.

Dementia helplines:

National dementia helpline 0845 300 0336

Scotland dementia helpline 0808 808 3000

For more information about Alzheimer’s Society, Alzheimer Scotland and Tesco Charity of the Year 2011 please visit www.alzheimers-tesco.org.uk

Crystal Chords are a dynamic barbershop chorus based in and around Greater Manchester and are active members of the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS), recently winning a bronze medal at the association’s national chorus championship in Harrogate. For more information on Crystal Chords, please visit www.crystalchords.org.uk

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For further information, interviews and images

For interviews and images, please contact Vicky Ames at vicky.ames@alzheimers.org.uk or call 020 7423 5167 / 020 7423 3595

For information about Tesco, please contact Hannah Collyer at Hannah.collyer@uk.tesco.com or call 01992 644645

Notes to Editors

The following are symptoms of dementia and if people are concerned about themselves or someone else they should speak to their GP:

- - struggling to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things that happened in the past?

- - finding it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV?

- - forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects

- - cannot recall things you have heard, seen or read

- - repeating yourself or losing the thread of what you are saying

- - having problems thinking and reasoning

- - feeling anxious, depressed or angry about your memory loss

- - finding that other people start to comment on your memory loss

- - feeling confused even when in a familiar environment.

Together Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland are Tesco Charity of the Year 2011 and hope to raise £5 million to fund Dementia Community Roadshows, Dementia Support and research. The partnership with Tesco presents a three step approach to help build a better future for people with dementia:

- - The Dementia Community Roadshows will visit Tesco car parks all around the UK from June 2011. It will help bring people worried about their memory one step closer to achieving a diagnosis by encouraging them to visit their GP and arming them with the information they need to help them achieve a diagnosis

- - After diagnosis, the Dementia Support Services will help isolated families get the specialist care and advice they need

- - Two vital dementia scientists will conduct groundbreaking research into the disease and increase our understanding of possible life-changing treatments and support

The partnership will be supported throughout the year by a range of product promotions in Tesco stores which will donate a proportion of their sales to the charities. A donation of 0.0125p will also be made by Tesco Personal Finance PLC every time a cash machine is used at Tesco until 29 February 2012. Clubcard customers can now donate their points to Alzheimer’s Society.

- - Alzheimer’s Society - Alzheimer’s Society is the leading support and research charity for people with dementia, their families and carers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Alzheimer's Society provides information, education and support to help people live their lives to the full. Alzheimer’s Society also funds research to improve the lives of people today and to find a cure for tomorrow www.alzheimers.org.uk

- - Tesco Charity of the Year partnership - Since 1988, Tesco has chosen a different charity every year to be the focus for staff fundraising. The Tesco Charity Trust tops up staff fundraising by 20%, up to a maximum of £500,000. www.tesco.com

- - Alzheimer Scotland - Alzheimer Scotland provides information and support to people with dementia, their carers and families in Scotland. We provide a national dementia helpline, a network of dementia advisors, dementia nurses, home support, support groups and a range of other services throughout Scotland.  We are working to make sure no one goes through dementia on their own www.alzscot.org

- - Crystal Chords – Crystal Chords is an award winning, 4-part a cappella harmony group of over 60 women based in the Greater Manchester area. www.crystalchords.org.uk