The songs on Rough Tracks of Life tell of sadness and hope, loss and discovery.

In a sense they are not all that different from those on many musical compilations.

But where this album differs from most is that every track was written and performed by members of a music therapy group at WomenCentre in Huddersfield. “They are,” says music therapist Emily Druce, referring to the women, “quite amazing.

“Most of them had little or no musical experience and came to the group saying ‘I don’t really sing and I’m not really musical’. And yet they got to the point where they had the confidence to write a song.” What’s more, a few weeks ago the women braved the stage of the Cellar Theatre at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield to sing their original material for family and friends.

The WomenCentre group, which meets weekly, has members drawn from many walks of life. They seek companionship and support for a variety of problems. Emily explains: “Women may have eating disorders, depression, isolation, mental health issues or physical challenges. They often come along with low self esteem and they’re often self-critical.

Fay Wheat (left) and a fellow member of the WomenCentre music therapy group recording their album Rough Tracks in Life

“Music is something that people love. Our group is really friendly and members say they can zone out from their problems and connect with others.”

For Fay Wheat, a 65-year-old former teaching assistant from Lindley, attendance at a singing group run by Emily initially offered a couple hours of respite from her role as a carer. However, since she was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, she says music therapy has thrown her a valuable lifeline. “After the diagnosis it became even more important to continue singing,” she said. “You forget everything that’s troubling you when you are singing. It’s very uplifting.”

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Fay’s husband Terry has Alzheimer’s and is now in a nursing home. It was an Alzheimer’s Admiral Nurse who suggested that Fay took some time out for herself while she was still caring for him. She became a member of Emily’s singing group that meets at Paddock Village Hall on Wednesday afternoons.

Although Fay used to play the mandolin and concertina, she has had no formal musical training and tragically lost the ability to make music after having a stroke. She explained: “As a result of the stroke the ability to play was wiped clean. I took the decision then that there was so much else I needed to learn I wasn’t going to struggle at something when I could take up new things.

“While my speaking voice is croaky, I can still sing.”

Members of the WomenCentre music therapy group in Huddersfield recording their album Rough Tracks of Life

Fay, who also suffers from the auto-immune condition Lupus, performs two songs on the album - one is sung a capella. As a keen poet, she was enthusiastic about song-writing and inspired by the story of a fellow music group member to pen a song called Step Into The Light.

Fourteen months ago Fay was given a 12-month prognosis and says she wouldn’t be surprised if music hadn’t played a part in extending her life. As a special needs teaching assistant she can recall the relaxing quality of music when played to children who needed physical therapies.

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For a 41-year-old mum from Deighton (who wishes to remain anonymous), membership of the music therapy group has been an important part of her recovery from a serious mental illness. A sufferer of bipolar disorder, she has endured a period of hospitalisation and separation from her young son, an infant at the time but now five-years-old. It was a period in her life that left scars, but she has continued to make a recovery and is back with her family. Her song is about the experience of loss.

While not a musician, the WomenCentre volunteer, has always enjoyed singing with choirs. She says her son loves the songs on Rough Tracks of Life so much that he requests it when they’re in the car together.

All of the songs were written in a collaboration between Emily, who plays the guitar, violin and mandolin, and the women. Emily explained: “They came with bits of poetry, scraps of paper with words on them and tunes in their heads. We worked together; sometimes I just tapped out the rhythm of their poetry to get started.

Recording Rough Tracks of Life in Huddersfield WomenCentre

“I’m really proud of the finished product because it sounds really great. The songs are all very personal and heartfelt. We might offer them to some professional artists to cover.”

The only man involved in the entire CD production was the recording engineer Samuel Hodgson from Huddersfield-based Rattle & Thud, a creative team that works with musicians. It was recorded in the WomenCentre loft space and funded with a grant from Creative Minds, the South Yorkshire health organisation that supports creative projects.

This entirely Made in Huddersfield album features 18 tracks by 14 individual songwriters, aged 19 to 70. It is available for £5 (£7.50 inc postage)from Women Centre on 01484 450866.