Watford disability charity, DRUM, to exhibit members' art work

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Art produced by members of Disability Recreation Unity Movement (DRUM) will be on show at the charity’s open day at Parkgate Community Centre, Southwold Road, Watford, from 11am until 3.30pm on Saturday, June 7.

DRUM is a group which offers support, activities and a place to go for people who have acquired a disability through a sudden accident or illness such as a stroke, Parkinsons or multiple sclerosis.

Art sessions, held four mornings a week at the community centre, are led by local artists Kathy Foster and Emma Shaw.

Kathy said: "The theme for the current DRUM project ‘Lights, Camera, Action, is inspired by film.

"From the beginning, the ideas began pouring out into drawings and paintings and these have formed the basis of some very individual works on paper and canvas, including a whole new image for some of the film stars of yesteryear, no longer in black and white but in the brightest neon colours."

As part of the project some member’s have also been working with creative writing volunteer Mike Loveday.

He said: "Our aim with the creative writing produced for this exhibition was to complement the amazing output of drawings and paintings and art objects created by DRUM members in weekly art classes, on the theme of The Movies."

DRUM, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, was set up by a small group of physically disabled volunteers and now has more than 60 members and provides a break to in excess of 100 unpaid carers every week.

The charity is "user-led" and the trustees and management committee are all disabled members, carers and volunteers. Day services are run by part time staff, tutors and volunteers, many of whom are students from West Herts College and local secondary schools, who were first introduced to DRUM via work experience.

One member, Christine Punt, said: "I first attended a few years ago at a very low point in my life. It was the answer to my needs at that time and I haven’t looked back since.

"DRUM is like an extension of my family - an open door to friendship. I look forward to the art sessions and spending time with the friends that I’ve made."

In addition to art sessions there are Yoga and Tai Chi classes providing regular exercise which can help improve muscle tone, mobility and reduce stress. There are also drama, music and creative writing workshops, days out and social events.

Core funding is provided by Hertfordshire County Council, but DRUM funds all the other costs, almost £50,000 per year, through membership fees, small grant applications, donations and fundraising.

Chairman Malcolm Cracknell said: "We don’t have the resources to employ fundraisers but we are incredibly fortunate to have a fantastic team who work many hours on a voluntary basis to raise the funds needed to keep the service going."

Manager Sarah Sullivan has been with the charity for 13 years and said: "Many first come feeling very low, as they feel like their whole world has been turned up-side-down by a sudden disability or as their circumstances change as their condition gets worse.

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"DRUM offers a varied range of activities and we try to keep our costs as low as possible so that our members can attend more than once a week if they choose to, reducing isolation and providing more support to carers.

"There isn’t another service like DRUM in the area which is why we don’t concentrate on one particular condition and welcome anyone, over the age of 18, with any physical and/or sensory disability."

The exhibition will be opened by Watford MP Richard Harrington. Entrance is free and art work and refreshments will be on sale to raise funds.

For more information call Drum on 01923 442114 or visit www.drum.btck.co.uk

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