Military, WWI, Remembrance, The Poppy Factory, Employment Service, Getting You Back to Work

Maria to sing with The Invictus Games Choir in a special WWI performance at The Royal Albert Hall

hannah General

On Tuesday 9th October, the Invictus Games Choir will be performing the ‘Great War Symphony’ at the Royal Albert Hall in a special performance marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the World War One. One singer involved is Maria Theresa Miles who has been supported by The Poppy Factory in her search for work.

“Singing at the Royal Albert Hall is a big thing for me. It’s in the top five things on my bucket list. It’s the first time the choir will have sung for royalty so I’m really excited.

“We’ve only had five practice rehearsals so we’ve had to do lots of practising at home. I have been singing my head off in the shower, on the train and in the supermarket. Some people look at me like I’m strange, but others join in with me.”

The Invictus Games Choir was started by Help for Heroes for wounded, injured and sick veterans and serving personnel to come together and use the power of music to aid their recovery. Maria joined the choir February 2017 as a means to help manage her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“I’d always loved music and sang in choirs from an early age. In the Invictus Games choir, we all have physical or mental health conditions. We’re like a big family and we support each other. The motivation from what the choir gives me is phenomenal. I could fight the world and win from the feeling the choir gives me.

“Sometimes the PTSD outweighs what my body can achieve. My fear of being around new people and not feeling in control is a big thing. But the choir has really helped and now I’m willing to try anything.”

The Poppy Factory

Maria broke her spine in a training exercise while serving in the Army and was medically discharged. She went on to have a successful 15-year career as a project manager before being made redundant.  

She contacted Help for Heroes and The Poppy Factory for employment support as she found she didn’t have the PRINCE 2 qualification she needed to get back up into work. Maria was introduced to Giles, the Employment Consultant for North East England, who offered her mentoring support, and also secured funding for Maria to do the qualification.

“Giles is an invaluable resource. He certainly helps pick me up by the bootstraps and tells me I am good enough. He’s just amazing.”

As well as taking part in the Invictus Games Choir, Maria won gold last year at the Warrior Games in Chicago, delivers presentations about mental health to doctors and is newly a grandmother. Next, she has her sight set on the London Marathon next year.

“Life is good, you really have to take what comes with it and being the owner of my journey is very empowering.”

All proceeds made from the Classic FM Live event will go to SSAFA.

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