When Sam, from Kent, first heard ‘Fall on Me’ by Andrea and Matteo Bocelli, she burst into tears. It was in the height of lockdown last year and she was attending a virtual music therapy session run by charity Demelza Hospice Care for Children, alongside her 10-year-old daughter. Sam’s only child Lucy – a precious IVF baby - has a unique genetic condition and multiple medical issues which means she is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair.
Sam says: “The words resonated so much with me. Having a child with a life-threatening condition, all that means on a day-to-day basis and with the added pressure of shielding from COVID-19, lockdown felt isolating. When we needed help, Demelza staff were there to catch us from falling."
Sam’s emotive reaction prompted her to approach Victoria Swan, Senior Music Therapist at Demelza, asking whether there was a way everyone could sing the track as part of the music therapy sessions that had become a lifeline to Sam, Lucy and countless other families at Demelza who were confined to their homes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Victoria says: “I thought ‘you know what?’ there might just be a way so I went away had a think, and came up with a ‘virtual’ choir”. Victoria approached James Hawkins who was more than happy to be a part of this new project.
Demelza's Fall on Me Choir
The final track and accompanying video were a long time in the making and are both now playing a leading role in the charity’s #FestiveWishes Christmas campaign. Working with families who have a child with a serious or terminal condition is unpredictable: endless hospital appointments, therapy sessions and health crises dominate the life of a child with complex medical needs and a day can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye. But the project became a lifeline to some, who had been shut indoors for months on end. Rehearsals – all conducted online - were also opened up to Demelza staff and volunteers and the choir that recorded the video at the end of the year were very different from the choir that started the project all of those months ago.
The resulting track and video, over a year in the making, is now a key part of Demelza’s 2021 Christmas campaign, which hopes to raise £100,000. This year, the charity is raising money to grant special #FestiveWishes for children and families who are facing the reality that this Christmas could be their last together. This includes a special gift for children and their siblings delivered by Demelza Elves, a personalised video message and letter from Santa, a visit to Santa’s grotto and a Festive Walk at Demelza’s hospice in Kent, virtual festive groups and activities for children and families in the lead up to Christmas, and above all the expert nursing care needed over the holidays and throughout 2022.
The final line of ‘Fall on Me’ is sung by Jack, 14 from Kent, whose mum, Phillipa also sings on the track. Jack’s complex medical condition doesn’t stop him - he loves to have the last word and, much to Jack’s delight, he had the honour of singing the last line.
Philippa says: ”I didn’t know Jack would be singing the last line – it gave me goosebumps when I heard him. Demelza has been, and is, a lifeline to us and this project gave us something positive to do through the dark days of lockdown, connecting us to Demelza and the families we have meet through their amazing support in a way we never imagined.”
To donate to Demelza’s #FestiveWishes appeal and see the spectacular Fall On Me choir in action, please visit our Christmas Appeal page.