Rays of Sunshine – Radio Horton teams up with Voices Across Time

The Voices Across Time Team, Florence Taylor, Joseph Cummings and Hattie Wells

Local theatre production company, Voices Across Time has joined forces with Banbury’s hospital, health and wellbeing radio station, Radio Horton to bring a new programme to listeners in the community, including care home residents and patients at the Horton General Hospital.

Based in Oxfordshire, Voices Across Time was formed in 2016 and consists of three core team members alongside a continuously growing network of artists, designers, technicians and volunteers. In addition to supporting local and national charities at their shows, Voices Across Time launched their Community Outreach Programme in 2018 which seeks to bring music and storytelling to the community in order to aid wellbeing, education and reach those who may not be able to access such experiences very easily.

Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Voices Across Time decided to trial a podcast aimed at residents of some local care homes and individuals in the community for Easter Sunday with the vision, to combat isolation and loneliness at a time when people cannot see their friends or families. Because of its popularity, Radio Horton approached Voices Across Time with a view to working together on a joint project.

The new podcast, called Bring Me Sunshine will be produced entirely by Voices Across Time and broadcast on Radio Horton on Sunday’s from 10:00 – 11:00 beginning on Sunday 26th April and repeated during the week. Bring Me Sunshine will comprise of a range of songs to sing along to and gentle activities in which listeners can participate from their homes or hospital beds, intertwined with music requests from local care home residents, patients in the Horton Hospital and voicemail messages from friends and family members.

People wishing to leave voicemail messages, or song requests for family members, friends or even a member of staff they would like to thank, can do so by calling (01295) 404104.

Patients in the Horton General Hospital are able to listen on Hospedia, while care home residents and individuals in the community can tune in via Radio Horton’s website or with a Bluetooth speaker, which the radio station is hoping to supply to care homes. Participating care homes will receive printable resources including a lyric sheet and scripts on a weekly basis that will also be available on the Radio Horton website and social media channels.

Executive Producer for Voices Across Time, Florence Taylor said: “We absolutely love working with our partner care homes and are delighted to be partnering with Radio Horton for this very special project. These are strange times and if we can help spread joy, laughter and music, then we will do everything we can to do that.”

There are numerous physical and mental health benefits to the production including the social aspects of connecting families and friends with their loved ones through broadcasting voice messages; engaging with listeners through thought-provoking content, generating conversation between care home residents, along with songs to sing along to and warmups including physical and vocal exercises for body and voice.

Research undertaken by national charity, Age UK found music can be beneficial for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by connecting and stimulating memories from somebody’s life which can often result in a personal response. Playing music from a significant period or event in a person’s life such as a song from their wedding, birthday or anniversary can help recall special memories and emotions.

The charitable objective of Radio Horton is to relieve sickness, infirmity and disabilities attendant on old age amongst persons living in Banbury and the surrounding area, by providing a local broadcasting service for hospitals, hospices, residential homes and similar institutions and wherever possible, providing a similar service within the local community to assist patients receiving “Care in the Community”.

Radio Horton Chairman, Anthony Brown said: “We are incredibly excited about working with the Voices Across Time team to support our local care home residents, hospital patients and anyone who has been impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus) and may be unable to visit their friends or family members.”

“The podcast has progressed from a concept, less than a week ago to what will soon become a regular, weekly production. Seeing the heart-warming stories of our heroes such as that of Captain Tom Moore has only inspired us more to providing a service to those in need at these challenging and uncertain times.”

The hospital, health and wellbeing radio station was established in 1964 by local journalists Ted Hanson MBE and Graham Wilton. Today, it is a registered charity and relies on much of its funding from the generosity of the local community and events where the team provide public address, music and entertainment such as the Banbury & District Show, the Katharine House Hospice Midnight Walk and a number of village or school fetes, which as a consequence of COVID-19 have either been postponed or cancelled.

Radio Horton is seeking some Bluetooth speakers or internet radios to supply local care homes, enabling their residents to listen to the programme. If any local Banbury companies are able to donate Bluetooth speakers (which cost around £20.00 per unit) or funds to help Radio Horton purchase some, please contact [email protected].

Brown continues: “As a charity with limited funds, we are forecasting our annual income for the year ahead to be a lot lower than in previous years due to many of the events we attend being postponed or cancelled.”

“Therefore, we are having to monitor our spending and would really appreciate anyone who is able to support our pledge to obtain some Bluetooth speakers or internet radios we can distribute to local care homes.”

Any care homes, hospices or hospitals interested in relaying the service are invited to contact Radio Horton to register their interest.

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