A Christmas Carol – Jane’s Story

jane-walkerJane Walker was forced to give up choir singing upon developing bronchiectasis. How does she revive her passion? She shares it.

Bronchiectasis is an abnormal increase in the size of the bronchi, which are the tubes that take air into the lung. With the increase in size, bacteria often get caught in these tubes, which often result in chronically infected bronchi.

Jane Walker is the woman behind the Breathing Matters Christmas carol concerts, and from 2006, Jane had to give up her passion of singing due to suffering from repeated chest infections. Upon referral to UCLH in 2011, Jane was diagnosed with bronchiectasis.

Before developing bronchiectasis, Jane’s life had been centred around music; she was extraordinarily talented, and she loved to sing. “Singing has been part of my life from a very young age”, Jane says. “I started lessons when I was 13, then I went on to play the flute, I got my grade eight in both! I studied Music, and achieved my degree and post grad PGCE to teach.”.

With all of this musical talent to offer, success soon followed Jane, and she later went on to sing with a professional choir, the Holst Singers. Jane explains that one of her most memorable moments was taking part in the premiere of John Tavener’s, The Veil of The Temple; an eight hour all-night performance in the Temple Church, and the longest piece of music composed in Western European classical music. “I also sang at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, recorded CD’s with the Decca label and took part in various concerts that were broadcast live on Radio 3”, Jane says.

However, when bronchiectasis struck, Jane suffered prolonged chest infections, which were exhausting and debilitating; and forced her to discontinue with her singing. “Some days, I would wake up with phlegm producing cough that would go on for up to an hour”, Jane explains.

Jane battled with her bronchiectasis, and in September 2013 she attended the Breathing Matters #Breathtember Celebration in the Refectory at UCL. At the event, Jane found presentations informative; she learnt more about research into lung diseases, and realised that such research is underfunded, and not given the publicity it deserves, often due to the misinformed perception that lung diseases are something related only to smoking.

“But I have never smoked and have a lung condition”, says Jane. “I thought a lot about the presentations and decided that I want to do something to fund research”, she adds.

Jane got in touch with the team at Breathing Matters, a charity set up to raise awareness and work with patients to help find a cure and develop better treatments for Interstitial Lung Diseases and lung infections, including bronchiectasis, and mentioned that she used to sing with a professional choir. Jane suggested that she could contact the choir, to see if they’d be interested in performing in a fundraising concert for Breathing Matters at Christmas.

“I missed singing with the Holst Singers and I knew this would be a great way to maintain my connection with them”, Jane says. “The team at Breathing Matters instantly became excited by the potential of the event, and even more so when the Holst Singers said yes!”

Jane explains how Breathing Matters is a fantastic charity that is very aptly named: “Breathing matters an awful lot when you are singing or playing an instrument –I am now so happy that, even though I cannot sing myself anymore, I can encourage others to share my passion – especially now that the concert is an annual occurrence!”

“I hope that the work we do to raise awareness and raise funds for research into bronchiectasis will help to give this lung condition the recognition it deserves”.

Sign up to receive our news and updates

  • This form collects your name and email address so that we can keep you updated with news and information about Breathing Matters. Please check our Privacy Policy to see how we protect and manage your data.

Where there's research there's hope

Research into respiratory conditions accounts for just 2% of all the medical research funding in the UK.

Will you support respiratory research?