A Christmas concert was held at the Alley Theater in Strabane this week by ‘Friends Together’, a choir of people with learning disabilities from across the Western Trust.
Those from across the Trust area, including Omagh, Strabane, Enniskillen and Derry, were joined by their families and staff for the concert, which took place after the group hosted several practice sessions via Zoom in the weeks previous ones.
The concert was presented by Micky Doherty, a charity worker from Derry, while a special video message aired by country music artist Nathan Carter.
The group performed a number of Christmas carols and other favorite songs, including Carter’s hit “Wagon Wheel”.
Organizer Deirdre Kelly, Local Participation Facilitator for ALD Services at the Western Trust, said the event brought great joy to those involved in the Friends Together group.
âBack during the lockdown, service users and their families reportedly said they felt very isolated, so we set up classes and workshops through Zoom,â Deirdre said.
âThe singing and dancing were very popular, so I suggested that we start the choir, which is made up of our adults with learning disabilities, their families and some of the staff.
âThey started training in September on Zoom, then they had three face-to-face meetings before the concert.
“They also chose the name of the choir themselves, and they chose Friends Together, because it brought people together from all over the Trust.”
Deirdre added that the group has been a great asset to both service users themselves and their families.
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âIt’s really important because it’s an outlet for them, and it’s so good for their mental health,â she added.
âThey are all really looking forward to training on a Tuesday night, and their families are looking forward to it as well.
“After the show, they all asked me when they were leaving after Christmas, and that will definitely continue.”