A NEW group is celebrating success after helping people with dementia to recall happy memories.

The Salvation Army's Singing by Heart programme encourages carers and people living with the condition to join together and sing songs that remind them of the past.

"A glad heart makes a cheerful face" is the motto of the group as people living with dementia can often feel vulnerable and isolated, whilst their carers can feel in need of reassurance and support.

John, 80, has the condition and attended the first Singing by Heart programme in Bolton along with his wife and carer Shirley, 81.

The pair spoke about how the group had helped them to connect with people in a similar situation.

Shirley said: “I thought it might benefit John to come along to Singing by Heart, getting involved in groups does make things easier, for both of us. Our worlds have changed completely, and not through choice, through necessity. You suddenly find yourself doing the job you’re not trained for so it is nice to meet different people and you can learn a lot from others.”

The borough's first edition of this event saw singers perform ‘This Little Light Of Mine’ and ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ as well as popular songs ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and ‘Rock Around The Clock’.

Singing by Heart takes place on the first Thursday of every month at the Bolton Citadel Corps located on St George’s Road.

Major Liliane Westlake runs the programme in Bolton and said she felt the first meeting had been a successful one.

She said: ‘It’s wonderful to see people sharing in the Singing by Heart programme with us and to see the joy on their faces as they sing the old familiar songs.

"With the rise of people being diagnosed as living with dementia we look forward to this group growing in the months ahead and are pleased to utilise our building and facilities to support those living with dementia and their carers."

The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that there are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this number is predicted to increase to over 1 million by 2025.

It was this rise in numbers which prompted The Salvation Army to create the ‘Singing by Heart’ programme to provide a way for those living with dementia to recall happy memories from their past.

It has been operated successfully in other parts of the country but only came to Bolton on Thursday, April 4.

By providing Singing by Heart, the Bolton Citadel Corps aims to provide a relaxing social activity for participants to revisit long lost memories and allow carers to socialise and develop a support network of other people in similar situations.

The ‘Singing by Heart’ session takes the form of a free drop-in from 11:30am until 1pm and includes a light lunch.

The sessions welcome anyone living with dementia and their carers.

The next session takes place on Thursday, June 6.