My name is Ruth Strangeway.
Although born in London, I’ve lived in Yorkshire for most of my life and now live at the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds in a beautiful but relatively unknown part of the U.K.
I’ve always loved singing and entertaining and remember fondly performing at an early age, in front of my long suffering parents, before eventually progressing to the “big stage” in various Ripon Grammar School productions.
After leaving school, I trained to be a teacher at Bedford College of Physical Education, where her second subject was music. Here I was fortunate to have my voice trained. Before graduating with a Certificate of Education from the Cambridge Institute, in 1974, I successfully won the Novice Class at the Bedford Music Festival singing the ‘Skye Boat Song.’
Between 1971 and 1979, as a member of the Harrogate Gilbert & Sullivan Society I took sub-principal roles in ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘Princess Ida’.
Between 1981 and 1999, I was employed by Yorkshire Water. Throughout this period I continued to act, sing and attend voice coaching lessons. In 1985 I became a member of Harrogate’s Deanery Players. Over the next ten years, I played lead roles in many of their productions, including Dick in ‘Dick Whittington’, Anita in ‘West Side Story’, Eliza in ‘My Fair Lady’, Dolly in ‘Hello Dolly’ and Milly in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Also, as a member of the Harrogate based group Kamamica, I played Svetlana in ‘Chess’ and Sheila in ‘A Chorus Line’.
In 1995 I was a member of the BBC Songs of Praise Pilgrimage Choir which toured Israel and in 1996 I began accepting professional singing engagements. Since then I have performed professionally at weddings, funerals, in concerts in the UK and overseas and at residential and nursing home engagements. Following requests for tapes and CD’s in 1998 I joined forces with guitarist and close friend Richard Sykes to produce ‘Love – The First Virtue’, with profits donated to charity. This cassette was followed by two CD’s, Songs of Patience, Hope and Gentleness’ (2000) and ‘I Dream of the Rain’ (2001). After these, I released my first solo CD, ‘Droplets’, which was followed shortly afterwards by my second CD ‘Heavenly Droplets.’ I donated the proceeds of both to the charity WaterAid, an international organisation whose mission is to transform the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
In 1999, inspired by the work of WaterAid, I left Yorkshire Water and started to work for the charity, initially as their North of England Regional Fundraising Manager and then latterly as their Team Leader – Water Industry Partnerships – North & Midlands. I ceased employment with them in November 2011.
In 2003 I studied with the London College of Music and Media and obtained a Diploma (ALCM) in Music Theatre (Honours).
Since 1997, my interest in the health benefits derived through singing, music and movement, particularly amongst elderly audiences has continued to grow.
In 2011, I established my successful Motivational Music business, entertaining and working with residents and staff of Nursing and Residential Homes across the region where my main objective is to encourage elderly residents to sing, believe in themselves, move, make music and above all have fun! I’m particularly proud to have been Choir Mistress to the Oldest Choir in the World, when they achieved their Guinness World Record in 2013.
Between 2012 and 2015, I gained additional experience in the Care industry, working as an Activity Coordinator, a position which I loved. In November 2013, I was awarded the Care Home Activity Organiser title in the Great Yorkshire and Humberside Care Awards 2013 and was a finalist in the National Care Awards Final in London in 2014.
There is so much evidence available to demonstrate the many social, physical and mental health benefits which singing and music brings us all, particularly as we get older, and I feel privileged to have witnessed some of them for myself.