THE main concourse at Worcestershire Royal Hospital was filled with tuneful singing on Thursday morning as a choir of patients with breathing difficulties wowed patients, staff and visitors.

The Sing 4 Breath choir put on a performance in the hospital's main concourse on May 15 at the end of a 12-week course helping them strengthen their muscles and alleviate their breathing problems through singing.

The group - made up entirely of patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) - were in fine voice as they were led by voice coach Hilary Davies of Choirs in Harmony.

Chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Harry Turner was on hand on Thursday morning and said the choir had won acclaim from Prince Charles himself.

"I had the opportunity to meet with the Prince of Wales recently and I briefed him on the choir and invited him to come along today," he said.

"He wasn't able to come but we've got a letter from him saying he wished them well."

He described the initiative as "fantastic".

"It's great that it's been picked up by all the patients so enthusiastically," he said.

"These are all people who are suffering with real illnesses.

"Things like this - apart from the clinical benefits - create a bit of a community in the hospital.

"What they've done is fantastic and I'm very, very proud of them."

Onlookers joined in with the singing of tuneful renditions of popular songs such as Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and When the Saints Go Marching In.

About 8,000 people in Worcestershire are living with COPD - the blanket term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

The choir was the brainchild of hospital chaplain Rev David Southall who said he was delighted by progress they had made.

"I have had the privilege of being part of them and hearing their stories of what a difference it has made to their breathing and their lives," he said.

"In fact the current research says that singing for these patients improves lung function in a way that drugs cannot do - improving quality of life and keeping people out of hospital."

For information on how singing can help with breathing problems speak to your GP, call NHS 111 or visit