News Wellbeing

Musician with dementia helps funding for dementia services

Three musician perform for Paul and Nick Harvey

Following one of 2020’s standout television moments – when Paul Harvey, former concert pianist, composer, music teacher and person living with dementia, played his Four Notes composition on BBC Breakfast – some 30 projects across the UK, providing musical services for people with dementia, are receiving a share of Music for Dementia’s £500,000 Paul & Nick Harvey Fund.

In just six weeks over 170 organisations applied to the fund which was launched by the Music for Dementia campaign, backed by The Utley Foundation, in January this year. Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 have been awarded to a diverse range of projects from dementia choirs to music therapy services. 

Successful grantees such as Lifesize CIC in England, Forget Me Notes in Scotland, Musical Memories Choir in Wales and Ulster Orchestra Limited Society in Northern Ireland, are overjoyed to receive support for their work in enhancing the lives of people living with dementia in their communities through music. 

Not only will those living with dementia benefit, the ripple effect of the fund will also touch carers, family and friends who support them in the community, care home settings and at home. 

Research and lived experiences show that music can help reduce the often-distressing symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, apathy and anxiety as well creating flashes of joy by bringing people into the here and now. 

In assessing the applications, Music for Dementia was keen to include organisations who have developed innovative approaches to delivering music during COVID-19 and those working with diverse and rural communities. For example, Wishing Well for Music in Surrey and Sussex, usually takes musicians to the bedside of people with dementia in hospital, but its grant will enable it to continue and extend its bedside music programme where hospital staff will connect the patient with the musicians via Zoom.  In addition, Elders Voice in Brent, which has a diverse population, will use its grant to bring musicians from a variety of cultures to make a positive impact on people with dementia from BAME communities, with music that reflects their specific cultural background.  

The Paul & Nick Harvey Fund was made possible by a kind donation from The Hunter Foundation to Music for Dementia, after philanthropists Sir Tom and Lady Marion Hunter saw Paul Harvey and son Nick’s TV appearance on BBC Breakfast.  

Nick Harvey said: “Dad and I are just so thrilled that Four Notes – Paul’s Tune has led to this. It’s truly extraordinary and we want to thank everyone involved in the fund from Sir Tom and Lady Marion Hunter to Music for Dementia and The Utley Foundation, plus the musicians who will be making and sharing music with people with dementia as a result.”

Grace Meadows, Campaign Director, Music for Dementia, explains: “Musical services have been severely impacted in the last year, meaning many people living with dementia and their carers have lost those important connections and special moments that music, uniquely, provides.  

“As Paul and Nick’s story so poignantly shows, music has the power to make beautiful moments of togetherness.

“It couldn’t be more timely to be distributing this fund just as we are beginning to see the green shoots of in-person services start to emerge. We can’t wait to see and hear the amazing stories of shared experiences that this fund creates.”

Lizzie Cody, Utley Foundation Manager, said: “By directing the fund money towards community-based, musical services for people living with dementia and those that provide them, we’re able to bring the joy of music into people’s lives wherever they are on their dementia journey. Seeing so many grassroots musical providers receive funds that enable them to continue their fantastic work in the community is amazing.”

Lauren Laverne, Broadcaster and Ambassador for Music for Dementia said:  “It’s fantastic to see so many projects being granted funds from Music for Dementia, which works so hard to help ensure that everybody with dementia has free access to music as part of their care, whatever their circumstances, as it can truly enrich their lives.  I know the ripple effect of the grants will go far and wide throughout the UK.  Music for Dementia does so much more though and I would encourage people to visit its website to find out more about what it does, including its m4d radio station and all the other resources it can offer the carers, family and friends of people living with dementia.”

Charlotte Miller, Director, Intergenerational Music Making, said: “We are so extremely grateful to receive this grant. The funding will enable us to implement vital intergenerational music therapy and sustainable connections across Surrey NHS wards and also to celebrate connection, amplifying voices of people from all generations and walks of life through our 3-Nation song-writing project.”

Vicky McClure, Actress and Campaigner for music to be an essential part of care for people with dementia said:  “Music has the power to transform, connect and enrich the lives of people living with dementia. It’s great news that 27 organisations across the UK have been given grants to extend their vital music services. The impact this will have on individuals, their carers and families cannot be underestimated.”


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