Sing out Strong choir aims to improve people's wellbeing

A new choir has been set up aimed at helping to improve people’s mental health.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 10:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 10:08 am

Sing out Strong – the world’s biggest mental health choir – has been launched on the Fylde coast with Lytham-born Stewart Hankinson at the helm.

The Blackpool and Fylde Sing out Strong choir meets on Monday mornings from 10.15am to 11.45am, at the Michael Hall Theatre School on Preston Old Road, Blackpool.

Choir leader Stewart Hankinson is a highly qualified professional musician who has led choirs at youth, school and community level and performed at venues including the Royal Albert Hall.

Choir leader Stewart Hankinson

Stewart, 61, who now lives in Freckleton, said: “Singing is often used as therapy, it is so good at lifting people’s spirits and taking them to a completely different place.

“That is what we are looking to do with this choir.”

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Stewart, who is also the director of music at St Paul’s Church, in Warton, formed his first choir in Lytham at the age of 15.

He has taught in schools and colleges throughout Lancashire and most recently was head of performing arts in a large comprehensive school.

Stewart now works as a freelance portfolio musician teaching singing and piano, conducting choirs, accompanying singers and instrumentalists and playing the organ.

Stewart added: “I first began singing aged six in the choir at St John’s Church on East Beach and founded my own choir in the town, The Stewart Singers, aged 15.

“I was involved in various local groups of the time such as Lytham Amateur Operatic Society, and St. Cuthbert’s Variety Group and later I co-founded the award-winning youth choir, The

Lidunian Chorale, made up of young singers from both Lytham and St Annes.

“I feel that the Sing out Strong project will be very beneficial to the community.”

Stewart was recently awarded a Master’s Degree in Music Performance and Pedagogy and is on the staff of the University of Liverpool.

Sing out Strong started life as a UK family of choirs for mental health and well-being, back in 2019.

Founder Emma Rowland, a professional choral conductor with PTSD, anxiety and depression, wanted to create a safe place where people could come and sing for their well-being. For

more information visit http://www.singoutstrong.co.uk/sos-blackpool; email [email protected], or find SOS on Facebook @SingOutStrongWellbeing.