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COPD won’t stop me singing at Eurovision

Margaret Nixon sang in a BLF choir – and would love to perform at Eurovision.

Doing everyday things can be really difficult with COPD - just getting out and about can leave me feeling very tired and breathless - so I never thought I’d sing in front of a large audience.

Recently, Nessie from the BLF put together a choir for people with lung conditions, and after twelve weeks of practise we put on a couple of performances in front of hundreds of people as part of Derry’s UK City of Culture celebrations. It was a fantastic experience - we all helped each other!

I’m a member of the BLF’s Breathe Easy support group in Derry, so know how important meeting other people living with COPD can be. We had lots of fun. That’s not to say we didn’t take it seriously though.

We had a respiratory nurse on hand and sang some very hard songs, so we were getting lots of exercise that we wouldn’t be doing otherwise. It helped my breathing and it made me feel a lot better. I’ve been on long-term oxygen therapy for my COPD for about four years now and for six months afterwards I didn’t need any additional treatment which was just brilliant.

My top tips for singing with a lung condition

  • Listen to the experts and do what they tell you
  • Keep going and don’t give up
  • Enjoy it – that’s the most important thing

The performances went down a storm and everybody said they really enjoyed watching and listening to us. I watch Eurovision Song Contest every year (I really liked last year’s winner) so who knows - this time next year it could be us performing in front of the world. Watch this space! 

Exercise, including singing, can help to relieve breathlessness and other symptoms of long term lung conditions. Find out more about community exercise for better lung health.


I would like to thank Brian for making Vicky Cashmore and my idea singing for breathing possible, after research and trying to negotiate red tape, Brian came to the rescue and took the project on and is doing a great job. As a nurse working on the Pulmonary Rehabilitation team I am aware of the huge benefits for patients coming on the course. I am saddened by the poor uptake nationally for Pulmonary Rehabilitation and at the moment we are working on a project to try to raise awareness of the benefits of the programme. With the setting up of the singing for breathing and a new social group in Poole we are working to help with the continuation of the social aspect of the course post rehabilitation, we are also trying to set up a continuation group for exercise. Our team is working hard to try and help people with lung conditions. Thank you Brian I wish there were more people like you to help.
Singing is amazing! I've had bronchial asthma for 58yrs. Two years ago I joined Coleford Community choir (they don't seem to mind my coughing!). It can be quite challenging - holding notes etc- but persevering has led to a real improvement in my asthma & I can hold notes for quite a long time now. The friendship and fun adds to the benefits. Singing is fab! Jenny
I have severve COPD and I have been in a choir for 3 years now. I find it helps me with my breathing and hope many people join a singing group or choir.
I have COPD and am on oxygen therapy, I sing in my local church choir and absolutely love it and find that I use the oxygen I have in a far more controlled and economical way. Would recommend singing to everyone.
I have COPD and asbestos related lung disease. In November 2013 I started a singing group for people with COPD called 'Breathless & Co'..this was in Co-operation with Jill Haves from the Dorset Hospitals University trust who referred our first members. Now, six months on we have a marvellous group of fifteen, meeting to sing for life and for fun on a weekly basis in Poole. Our model is based on the Brompton Hospital singing for life project, using exercise tracks from the singing for life Cd published by Pheone Cave and we have a repertoire of varied songs, some more challenging than others. We have come to the notice by our local newspaper, who are publishing a feature on our Choir, and it's therapeutic benefits to the members. Informal singing is an excellent way to practise breathing management, and also be part of a fun social group of like-minded people. Brian Hemsworth

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10 May 2014