NHS choir member: 'I hope the NHS celebrates its 80th anniversary and more'

NHS choir member: 'I hope the NHS celebrates its 80th anniversary and more'

Caroline Smith, second left, with Sara Cox and other choir members. Image: Lewisham and Greenwich NHS

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The NHS choir who scored a Christmas number one in 2015 with Bridge Over You are hoping for another chart hit with their cover of The Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends.

Recorded to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which falls on July 5, the single is released this Friday (July 6) and Caroline Smith, a children’s community physiotherapist and choir member, told talkRADIO about the work that went into pulling it together.

“We’ve been going for about six years, since the Gareth Malone programme,” says Ms Smith of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, which was put together on Gareth Malone’s TV show Sing While You Work in 2012.

“We wanted to do something to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS and thought we’d try another song,” says Ms Smith.


Charity single

The choir recording at Abbey Road. Image: Lewisham and Greenwich NHS

“Obviously we had the Christmas number one in 2015 and we wanted to do something different. That’s where the whole NHS Voices campaign came in to really lift it to a national level.”

The single, recorded at the legendary Abbey Road, will be released under the name NHS Voices, and all proceeds from its sale will go to NHS Charities Together, a group of over 100 charities.

A live singalong will happen at Abbey Road tonight (July 4), with the choir and other NHS organisations around the UK, and will be broadcast on ITV.


Abbey Road ‘amazing’

The choir's 2015 number one, Bridge Over You (a combination of Brige Over Troubled Water and Coldplay's Fix You)

“It’s amazing to go somewhere like Abbey Road,” says Ms Smith.

“I knew where we were going but I had to keep it from the choir as it was meant to be a secret.

“When we got there they were actually digging up the famous crossing, we couldn’t believe it! We were all ready to go across the crossing but it was closed off and there were diggers everywhere.

“By the end of the day they were just putting the last white stripe across the road so we still got to do it. It was such a privilege to record there.”


Celebrity support

The choir outside Abbey Road Studios. Image: Lewisham and Greenwich NHS

Celebrities involved in the track include Nile Rodgers, Rick Astley, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Tony Hadley, Alexandra Burke, Myleene Klass and Blue.

“Everyone brought something different, it was amazing,” remembers Ms Smith.

“Myleene was playing the piano, it was really beautiful, Marina and the Diamonds has such a lovely voice, a lovely tone, Tony Hadley came in and belted it out.

“Gary from Reef had an amazing rock voice, perfect for this song.

“Aston from JLS as well had such a beautiful voice. There were a lot of moments in that room where jaws dropped.”


NHS ‘treats everyone the same’

Ms Smith, 44, has been working for the NHS for 20 years.

“It’s quite good that I’m celebrating my 20th anniversary and the NHS’s 70th anniversary,” she says.

“I work with children with movement disorders like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, anyone with motor development difficulties aged from 0 up to 19 so it’s a wide range of people.

“You get to know patients and families for a while which is really lovely.”

She says she hopes the NHS goes on to celebrate its 80th anniversary in the future.

“I’m proud that anybody can access treatment, that’s why it was set up,” she says.

“Health is a lottery, you never know what’s going to happen, and anybody should be able to have care at the most stressful worrying time of their life.

“We treat everybody equally and I think that’s really important.

“I hope to be celebrating the 80th anniversary and more. I’ve got children and I want it to be there for them. Nobody’s saying it’s perfect, but we’ve got an amazing resource and we need to look after it.”