Line of Duty star Vicky McClure leads a choir of voices to share message on dementia

When Vicky McClure snipped the ribbon at the annual Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk some nine years ago, she had no idea of the impact it would eventually have on her own life.

Line Of Duty actress Vicky McClure has worked hard to raise awareness of dementia. (Picture: PA).

For just one year on from the flagship fundraiser, the Line Of Duty star – who had little knowledge of the disease prior to the event – discovered her grandmother (‘Nona’) had been diagnosed with vascular dementia.

It was a turning point for McClure, who ever since has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition, from her appointment as an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador and appearing in dementia-friendly theatre performances, to campaigning for a dementia-friendly UK, including returning to support the Memory Walk in her hometown of Nottingham each year.

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“When something hits you in your life, you don’t know how to deal with any of it until it’s there, whether it be cancer or depression or dementia,” says McClure, 35.

“You stop and think you have to figure it out, because you’re not pre-warned. And my mum was focused on the fact that she had no idea how hard it would be, so she wanted to know how to help other people,” she recalls.

“Raising awareness and telling your story is hugely important.”

True to her word, her latest project – a two-part documentary series – is set to spread the message far and wide.

BBC One’s Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure will see the Bafta-winning actress embark on a personal journey to discover the true extent of music’s power in fighting dementia.

Joining forces with the University of Nottingham and specialists from 
the fields of medicine, music therapy and performance, McClure is 
forming a very special band and choir to put on one truly unforgettable performance.

And having seen first-hand how music therapy can change lives, she’s overjoyed to be steering the ship.

“When you know someone is going through something at the same time as you, you don’t feel like you’re on your own,” she reasons.

“That’s what happened with the choir.”

“We’re not just doing it to highlight an issue that we know is horrific, but also the positive side of it too - music, I do feel, is as powerful as a drug.

“There isn’t anything currently to stop or cure dementia, but it’s about trying to live well with the condition,” she continues.

“We’ve got to share this with the masses, we’ve got to make sure that people understand the benefits of music, and we have to find other ways of making people feel better.”

Having recruited ex-musicians and singers with dementia to partake in the project, the stakes are high, as the final performance could leave a lasting legacy in our understanding of the disease.

But as important as the singing is, it’s vital the series documents scientific breakthroughs, too, McClure insists.

“The music side is the core of the show, because we’ve managed to prove in those three months how much it improved their lives and those of their families, friends and carers,” she says.

“But the science side is crucial, because we don’t know what we might find.”

And as for what she would like to happen next? “I want to keep going,” McClure says, resolute. “I’m not leaving it at one ‘two-part doc, and I’ve done my part for dementia’. There’s loads more to be discovered.

“I want to find more ways of helping people to live well with dementia,” she pledges.

“Yes, I want to find a cure, but I can’t put that on my shoulders – everyone’s doing their bit. But I want to be a part of that.”

Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure starts on BBC One on May 2.