ON THE GROUND: Music in Hospitals

Scheme: To provide high-quality live music to adults and children in hospitals, hospices, day care centres, special needs schools, nursing and residential homes

Funding: Has an income of £700,000 a year. Receives grants from the Department of Health and charitable trusts, companies and individual donors

Objectives: To help improve the quality of life of people of all ages within the healthcare environment through the provision of live concerts, presented by carefully selected professional musicians

Hospital can be a depressing place for patients. Often they are left for hours with little to entertain them except for a TV, leaving many to become bored.

Music in Hospitals was set up to help improve the quality of life for people in hospitals, hospices, nursing and residential homes by providing live concerts.

"I never cease to be amazed by the difference the concerts can make," says Dianne Greenman, chief executive of Music in Hospitals. "At one recital there was a woman in a wheelchair who was obviously in a lot of pain.

As the concert progressed, I could see her gradually start to sit upright and by the end she was waving a Union Jack along to Land of Hope and Glory. Music can be an extremely powerful tool."

Originally founded in 1948 to help injured ex-servicemen, the charity hosts more than 4,000 events a year and has a pool of 300 professional musicians. Each is carefully chosen not only for their musical ability but also their communication skills. "Our musicians must be able to adjust their approach depending on who they're playing for - whether the patients are terminally ill or profoundly handicapped," says Greenman.

The average cost of a concert is £179 with the care establishments asked to contribute £97 and Music in Hospitals covering the remaining £82 shortfall.

However, many centres are unable to afford even the subsidised charge, so the charity raises money to provide concerts at reduced cost or, alternatively, free of charge.

This year's main fundraising event will be a Royal Gala reception and concert to be held at Drapers' Hall in London. Music in Hospital's royal patron the Duchess of Gloucester and the charity's president and Classic FM DJ Henry Kelly are expected to attend.

For further information on the charity, call 01932 252809.

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