Sheet music and tuner

Our Blog

Sharing the joy

The St Barnabas House Community Choir musical director shares his volunteering story

Meet Matt

With a demanding career in the City, Matt Bamford doesn’t have a lot of time to spare.

For him, volunteering is about sharing his passion for music-making. So, when his London choir, Invicta Voices, came to Worthing for a fundraising concert in aid of St Barnabas House, he started thinking about how he could work with the charity longer term. Matt has a family connection with the hospice – his great-grandma was cared for by Hospice at Home, and his grandmother is a patron.

Below: Matt at practice for Light Up a Life.

Sadly, the pandemic halted initial plans for a community choir for staff, patients, and supporters. In September 2021, restrictions were relaxed enough to offer a couple of taster sessions. “We thought we would see what happened and see who turned up,” says Matt. “In the end, we were inundated – I think we had about 40 people.”

Another hurdle came in the form of the Omicron variant in December 2021, putting paid to the community choir’s first performance at the hospice’s annual Light Up a Life remembrance event. When the event went virtual, so did the performance. “We spent an evening recording outside the hospice on one of the coldest nights of the of the winter,” says Matt, who now lives in Reigate – making it difficult for him to attend frequent rehearsals.

A sense of community

In the spring, and having secured some funding for the purpose, the choir auditioned for a local assistant musical director. “This meant we could hold more regular rehearsals and bring together a sense of community within the choir, which was important. Now the brilliant Lucy Goldberg leads most of the weekly rehearsals and I advise and pop down when I can.

“We choose the music together – Lucy, me and the choir members. Because St Barnabas is celebrating its 50th anniversary, we are doing a piece of music from every decade it has been open. So far, we have a Mamma Mia medley and a medley from Les Mis – quite different ends of the spectrum, but all great fun.”

Being a community choir, it’s all about enjoying making music together and there’s a mix of abilities. “It’s for people to let themselves go, escape whatever they might be going through that week,” says Matt. “Hopefully we create an environment where people can laugh, smile and have a great time.”

Sharing the joy

“Making music is a massive joy in my life,” he continues. “The St Barnabas Community Choir is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. As the famous phrase goes, ‘Music speaks where words fail,’ and to me that is totally true. There are moments in life when people can’t speak because of grief or anguish. At other times, people might be too happy and too excited to speak. At these moments, there will always be music. For me, singing helps you express yourself in a way that you don’t normally do in in life and create bonds with people that you wouldn’t normally come across.”

Members of the choir are all members of the hospice community, but they might be staff, patients, or volunteers. “They’ve all got their own journey, but they come together for a common cause to make music,” says Matt.

“The choir is very special and when we hear people’s stories about what it means to them it’s a very powerful message. For someone who is recently bereaved, the sense of belonging you can get from a group like that is life-changing. One choir member had recently lost their spouse. After friends encouraged them to do something new, they joined the choir – and their friends says they’ve not been the same person since.”

For Matt, music is his main form of volunteering. With a job he loves, which comes with plenty of pressure, he must fight to carve out a space for it in his life. “I’ll be honest, I create time for it because I love it and if I didn’t love it, I know I wouldn’t find the time,” he says. “Sometimes it’s a stretch, trying to prep for rehearsals during my commute to the office. There are times when I think, why am I doing all of this? And that comes back to what I was saying about escapism. I have a very interesting but quite challenging and sometimes demanding day job. But the one thing that I’ve always kept through my career is that when I have a rehearsal, that time is sacrosanct.”

Rehearsals take place weekly on Wednesdays from 6.30pm-8pm, in the Living Well Hub at St Barnabas House. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to attend a free taster session – just email

Other volunteer roles

If singing isn't your thing, but you want to get involved at St Barnabas House -then there's lots of volunteer roles avlaible. From helping out in our shops to befriending patients with our Community Companions role - there's something for everyone!

Volunteer information