AN all-inclusive Borders choir will take to the stage next week to perform at a major awards ceremony.

The Keys to Life Choir has been invited to perform at the Scottish Learning Disability Awards within the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh next Friday.

Comprised of people with a learning disability, the choir is named after Scotland's strategy for supporting the learning impaired to have great lives - The Keys to Life.

They are led by Sandy Devers from Streets Ahead, and Claire Taylor from The Richmond Fellowship Scotland.

Formed in September last year, the group meets twice a month in Galashiels and Hawick and cover a wide range of songs.

From the Proclaimers and Abba to numbers from the Sound of Music, everyone has their own favourites, but they also enjoy the challenge of learning something new.

Musical members of all ages from across the Borders have spent the last few sessions practising for their big night on May 17.

Sandy said: “We started the choir for people for people with a learning disability and their carers and families.

“We love singing together as a group. We make everyone feel welcome and the emphasis is on fun and taking part.

“We all encourage each other, and friendship is important - the group always has a break for coffee and a chat.

“Although fun is the key, there is much hard work and concentration involved in learning the music and words. It has been great to make new friends and sing together”.

Claire added: “The choir is delighted to have been asked to perform at the awards ceremony.

“They have been working hard on songs for the event and they’re very excited to be part of the occasion.

“Music is a great way to bring people together and the choir has given people in the Borders with a learning disability a chance to come together, learn songs and have fun.”

Around 25 Borderers will attend the event in Edinburgh, with families, carers and support workers joining the choir members.

Choir member Helen said: “I'm really excited about performing at the Sheraton but I am a bit nervous. We are all going to do our very best on the night and sing our hearts out.

“I like coming to the choir because I get to meet new people and sing great songs.”

Only a few months after forming, the choir held a Christmas concert at the MacArts Centre in Galashiels.

And now, as well as the award ceremony, they will be performing locally at an event to celebrate Learning Disability Week on Thursday, May 16 at Galashiels Rugby Club.

The Scottish Learning Disability Awards, organised by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) provide an opportunity to celebrate the rarely heard stories and achievements of people with learning disabilities and the people who support them on a national level.

Linda Mitchell, SCLD Partnership & Development Manager said: “The Scottish Learning Disability Awards are about highlighting the talents of people with learning disabilities and The Keys to Life Choir is a perfect example of this.

“We are delighted that they will be entertaining our guests at the awards and showcasing just how hard they work to deliver great performances, and the talent that people with learning disabilities in the Borders have to offer.”