Hundreds of local armed forces veterans and their families who are affected by dementia or other mental health challenges can continue to visit the music workshop, Café Muse, thanks to a grant from Herefordshire Freemasons to Orchestra of the Swan, a leading chamber orchestra based in the Midlands.
The £33,000 grant is a welcome relief for the local Hereford community that attends the weekly sessions at The Courtyard in Hereford, as the existing funding has ended.
The workshop sessions not only allow participants to explore musical instruments and rediscover any musical skills but also to make new friendships and reduce loneliness.
Currently, there are over 3,000 older people living with dementia in the Herefordshire region, and this figure is predicted to rise to 5,500 by 2035. Herefordshire is one of six counties that has the highest proportion of veterans in the UK. The 2021 Census reports there are 9,600 veterans living in Herefordshire, which equates to 11 per cent of households, with 450 veterans living in a care setting. The estimated veteran population living with dementia in the county is about 1500.
The grant from Herefordshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, funded by Freemasons, their families, and friends from across England and Wales.
Debbie Jagla, managing director of Orchestra of the Swan, said:
“We’re very grateful to Herefordshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which has secured the future of this important service for armed forces veterans or people with a link to the armed forces, whether through a partner who may have served in the forces or other family member, either living with dementia and/or other mental health challenges. Over the last two years, we’ve hosted well over 100 Café Muse sessions at the Courtyard, helping to improve the emotional well-being of more than 1,200 attendees. All this was made possible through co-created musical workshops delivered by the Orchestra of the Swan’s professional musicians.”
Michael Holland, Head of Herefordshire Freemasons, said:
“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support the Orchestra of the Swan’s wonderful programme of musical workshops for former soldiers with dementia. Freemasons have an excellent record backing charities looking after both military veterans and people with dementia and I am proud to be associated with this important project.”
Café Muse takes place every Wednesday at The Courtyard, Hereford from 11am to 2pm, with provision of a free lunch. If you or someone else you know would like to attend, you can book by calling 01926 350228, email [email protected] or head to orchestraoftheswan.org/cafe-muse for more information.