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24 November 2017

Carol's Christmas Carol

"COPD is so isolating we worry about what we can do and what we can't do and we lose friends."


How would you describe Carol Liddle? She's one of the founding members of the Wigan Warblers and a lady who refuses to be defined by her condition. Her story began one Christmas having been given some earth shattering news.

In her own words

"It's Christmas week and you’ve just found out you have severe COPD. This wasn’t really a surprise, I had been struggling for years. Hiding behind my husband it was easy to do things at a slow pace. To stop going anywhere, to stop cooking and get help in to help with the housework. I couldn’t walk thirteen feet without stopping for breath.

"By February last year, despite completing pulmonary rehab & being on maximum medications Spiriva Forstar Slo-Phyllin, I was still struggling and I was referred for lung transplant assessment. I’d had heart tests, echos, angiograms and thankfully I wasn’t going into the heart failure that often accompanies severe/very severe COPD. My FEV1 was 29% and I was averaging 5 exacerbations a year. Despite all this the only time I didn’t struggle was when I was singing.

"By last Christmas my walking distance had improved to over 70 metres. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was in no way walking at a normal pace and still couldn’t walk and talk but my distance had improved. Plus, my FEV1 Was improving. So, I was being considered for endobronchial valves.

"By August of this year my consultant and I decided that, given my FEV1 was stable at over 40% (between 45% & 42% over completed spirometry tests) and I have had only 2 exacerbations in the same period this year, we were going to delay any possible surgical intervention considerations until after May 2018.


"Singing with the Wigan Warblers has dramatically reduced the Dynamic Hyperinflation in my lungs, one of the major disabling consequences of COPD. It has improved my walking distances because I am no longer sat at home on the sofa every week. We sing dance & exercise in each of our meetings. We meet outside of the group and myself and my daughter are always out and about talking and demonstrating our Warblers approach. It’s great for well-being and has reduced some of my anxiety and depressions.

"The other, and I think most empowering, thing about the Warblers is that each & every one of us is touched by COPD or a long-term condition. It doesn’t matter about turning up every week, someone is always there. It doesn’t matter if you turn up late, we will never turn you away. You’re not obligated in anyway there’s no risk of being thrown off the course. You can come on your own or with a companion carer friend or family member. We can help by signposting you to help. We will always offer a listening ear a shoulder to lean on if you need. Friendship, fun and help you by showing you breathing methods that will become second nature to help you cope with your symptoms. We aren’t a cure we are an interactive support group that can by real lived experience’s help you regain some control of your COPD."


Carol, along with her daughter Natasha head up the Wigan Warblers who, over the past two years, have gone from strength to strength. Meeting twice a week they have been visited by local healthcare professionals as well as international ambassadors such as Russell Winwood. They have attended conferences and demonstrated their methods up and down the country, getting involved with projects such as Singing for Better Breathing. In September they were given the honour of being invited to the COPD Global Summit 2017 in Milan as special guests. Have a look at clips of Carol and Natasha speaking on stage in the COPD Foundation's video of the event here.

I'm sure you'll agree that Carol is a pretty outstanding lady and I'm sure Carol will be singing Carols this Christmas!