On song for a good cause

10 October 2018 | Scotland

Sing West Lothian

Meet the choir helping local people with secret acts of kindness.

When mum-of-three Lorna Brown was watching a TV programme about a child with a life-limiting illness, she thought about how the parents of that child must feel.

“I thought how fortunate I was with my kids,” she said, “and decided that I had to do something to help others who weren’t as lucky.

“That night I decided to start a choir and put out a post on social media. So many people showed interest that within a week I’d already got enough people to begin.”

And the choir she started four years ago does more than just sing. The members of Sing West Lothian, also known as West Lothian Choir, are behind hundreds of secret acts of kindness in their local community. They include sending meals to housebound locals, secretly paying lunch bills for families going through hard times, and sending flowers, chocolates or messages of support to people needing encouragement.

The 60-strong choir, which raises money through fundraising concerts, prefers to keep quiet about their good deeds.

Lorna, 36, from Bathgate, and who studied at the London School of Music Theatre, soon trained up the all-age group and started to put on public performances to raise money.
She recalled: “We raised £1,000 from the first concerts which we gave to different charities. But then we all got together and decided that we could make a bigger impact if we were to use the money to help people in the local community.

“We began a Pay It Forward pot, where choir members could nominate local groups and people who needed a boost, or a bit of encouragement, and who we could gift anonymously.

“So we started to use the money to help people and do good, without anyone knowing it was us.

“It’s a way of showing that anyone can do nice things and do it because they can, not for any recognition. And it can have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Since they started, the choir, which meets once a week in Armadale Community Centre, has raised several thousand pounds and helped more than 200 people.

The good deeds included sending fruit baskets to hospital patients, helping struggling families with shopping, meals or gift cards, and delivering Christmas dinner to 56 local families, along with presents for children who otherwise wouldn’t receive one.

Recently, the group sent a bouquet of flowers and chocolates to a woman suffering from breast cancer who had been told she needed a mastectomy. Lorna said: “Soon after she called her friend, who unbeknown to her was the one who had nominated her.

“She told her she had arrived at home in tears after agreeing to the operation, and asked God to give her a sign that she was doing the right thing.

“At that moment the doorbell rang with the flowers and chocolates, and a card which read ‘you are an inspiring woman’.

“It was all she needed to hear. It was a small, simple thing we did but which made such a huge difference. That’s the reason we do this.”

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