ICU Liberty Singers - Singer Stories

The ICU Liberty Singers began life as an attempt to bring some fun and respite to ICU workers after the toughest year in history. Choir members include ICU staff such as nurses, doctors and allied health professionals who have been working on the frontline of healthcare. 

Our singers share their experience of singing together and the impact that being a part of this choir has had on them.

“Singing is a mindful activity. It’s harder to be distracted by the everyday noise in life if you’re busy creating your own tune. Anyone can sing and sharing it just makes it better! Who knows where this project will end?”

Kari Olsen-Porthouse, Liberty Singer

My name is Julie Harper. I am an ACCP on Critical Care at QMC in Nottingham. Over the years I have been involved in amateur musical theatre and this has always been my source of stress relief. During COVID this all stopped and at the time I needed it most.

So when this opportunity came up to sing my heart out, with people who have and are going through the same, how could I not get involved? 

It has been great and uplifting to see everyone, and meet new people from all over the country, just sing and have a laugh without judgement.

Julie Harper

Advanced Critical Care Practitioner, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham

One of things I have really missed during the pandemic is the choir that I normally sing in every Wednesday evening.  It is not just the singing and technical aspects of making music with others that comes with a choir, but also the sense of community, support and connection through collective singing.  It’s difficult to capture into words, but there’s a profound, intangible emotion felt while bonding with other choir members in rehearsals and performances, along with the social interaction and fun times before and after the singing.
I have very much missed a weekly Wednesday sing during the pandemic for all those reasons – and then the ICU Liberty Singers came about!  We’ve only had 2 rehearsals together on Zoom which is never quite the same as face-to-face practices.  However, the joy in everyone’s faces as they sing along muted on their screens and Kari’s infectious enthusiasm has really brightened up this gloomy second wave period for me already.
It’s been such a tough year for everyone, and I hadn’t realised how much stress and tension had built up until becoming extremely emotional during that first sing together of Every Breath You Take which beautifully expresses the feelings across the ICU community right now.
The ICU Liberty Singers was the right medicine at the right time that I needed to boost up my mental wellbeing and physical health too from just feeling better after a good old sing with others.  I feel fortunate to have stumbled across the invite on social media and very grateful to Alison and others who organised this ICU choir.  THANK YOU!!

Heather Baid

Intensive Care Pathways Leader, Intensive Care Unit, Brighton

I’m Sarah, I’m an ICU nurse.
I joined the choir as I enjoyed singing and thought it would be a great way to deal with stress during the pandemic. I’ve made some wonderful friends and it gives me something positive to look forward to. We normally sing over zoom, but we have met up twice and it was amazing hearing everyone sing together. It was so much fun! I remember the first meet up was the first time I had felt genuinely happy in months.
We also have been asked to sing at two conferences, not many were able to attend but it was still amazing.
This choir has turned a big group of strangers into an ICU family!

Sarah Carpenter

ICU Nurse, Cardiff

I’ve worked in ITU for 20 years this year as a pharmacist. Two decades, so much has happened and changed in that time. Both professionally and personally for me.

Music brings people together especially in times of adversity. It always has, during the war, at happy times of celebrations and sad times celebrating peoples lives.  For me at my lowest times being part of a choir has brought me great joy. So when this year, such an unprecedented time in history, in all our lives, a colleague messaged me about this ITU choir, knowing how I love to sing. I jumped at the chance to join in. I felt elated when I found out I was number 93 and had been able to join the choir in the initial 100. 

The lead up to our first session and seeing all the messages it made me feel like I was part of something wider than just my local team it gave me a great sense of solidarity and a sense of belonging. It has brought me joy singing as a group and I am proud of what we all do in our working lives so to be able to have some light relief at this time of year just coming through the 2nd wave the choir has come at just the right point.

Julia Trinder

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