Bloomin’ fabulous: The Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir recently celebrated their 10th anniversary at Mayo Cancer Support Headquarters – Rock Rose House, Castlebar. PHOTO: FRANK FULLARD

THE resumption of normal activities after the Covid restrictions has been cause for celebration for countless clubs and voluntary organizations in the county in recent months.

For Mayo’s Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir, it means even more as the members reunited just in time to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

They marked the milestone occasion in style in recent weeks with a live performance at the Transatlantic Journey Home concert which took place at the TF Royal Theater in Castlebar on May 28 as part of the Home to Mayo festival and with a party during their last weekly rehearsal before the summer break on June 8th.

Louise Killeen, musical director of the Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir, explains that the group evolved from the cancer survivor choir Something to Sing About.

It takes its name from Rock Rose House – the headquarters of Mayo Cancer Support – which has been the base of its activities for the past decade.

A registered charity, Mayo Cancer Support helps patients/survivors and their loved ones through the experience of a cancer diagnosis by providing a full range of free supports.

Louise points out that the Rocks ‘n’ Roses choir was never really about singing. The choir aims to improve the mental well-being of members through song and by providing a social outlet where they can meet others with a common cancer experience.

The Rocks ‘n’ Roses choir is driven by a sense of fun and enjoyment, Louise points out.

“I’m not even a qualified music director. I stand in front of the choir and wave my hands up and down and they all seem to know what we’re doing!” she laughs.

In addition to their love of music, the members of the Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir have a common appreciation for life. “One of our members once said that life isn’t the same when you’re diagnosed with cancer, but it can be better,” Louise explained.

Beating cancer can ultimately prove life-saving for some, leaving them much more open to experiences than they would have been before.

The Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir has certainly given its members their fair share of fun experiences over the years.

For some, that has included joining the local Dragon Boat Club founded by Louise in 2015 for the physical well-being of cancer survivors.

The choir members have also enjoyed many social outings and trips together and some have participated in fly fishing retreats with the charity Casting for Recovery.

COLLECTIVE SUPPORT

But there have also been tough times for the members. The worst of them involved the loss of other members, but the collective support of being part of a choir carried them through the sad times.

Being based at Rock Rose House, Castlebar has also encouraged some members to contact Mayo Cancer Support and benefit from the wonderful free support and services they provide.

Louise says the charity has only supported the activities of the choir and in return they have undertaken fundraising to support its operations.

After a remarkable decade of friendship, support and songs, it’s no surprise that the Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir put on a spectacular performance when they finally returned to the stage for the Transatlantic Journey Home concert.

Louise was blown away by the composure of the members on this occasion. “I couldn’t have been more proud of them than I was that night,” she remarks.

“I get so much to be with the members and see them laugh and cringe.”

The Rocks ‘n’ Roses Choir will resume in September and is an open invitation to all cancer patients/survivors – male or female – who wish to get involved.

For more information, email [email protected]