Tragedy gives music to life


The Music Well, which uses music as therapy in a wide range of circumstances and with a variety of age groups, has just held its annual meeting.

Liz Butt, a local music therapist, set up the project to bring wellbeing through music to young and older individuals and groups who live in difficult and/or emotionally challenging circumstances.

She was already working locally with individual children but wanted to make music therapy more widely available to schools. The latter were very keen and, through some fundraising, the Directors of the Music Well project were able to make the therapy available in several local primary schools.

The feedback was very positive and one of the children Liz Butt worked with was Mary Shipstone who was killed by her father in Northiam last year.

Following the tragedy her family set up “Mary’s Fund” and made the Music Well one of the beneficiaries so that other vulnerable children could get the support needed.

To donate to the Mary Shipstone memorial fund, “Mary’s Fund”, visit

At the Music Well’s AGM the chair, Stephen Clift (a London University professor) gave his report about the achievements of the past year, but also talked about the challenges ahead.

For some years now the Music Well was able to achieve its goal and provide music therapy to vulnerable children in various primary schools in Rye and surrounding area but, as funding became an issue for the Music Well and the schools, the contracts could not be renewed. However, Rye College is continuing this very positive provision for their pupils.

The Chair made clear just how much “Mary’s Fund” had helped financially to support the work of the Music Well in schools and hoped that this help would continue to support other vulnerable children, as apparently Mary gained a lot from having music therapy in her young life.

The Music Well has also been actively involved in raising awareness and promoting a dementia friendly community in Rye and, following this, a new exciting development for the Music Well has arisen through the Lottery Fund “Awards for All” – money ring fenced for a dementia project.

Keith Osborne, a holistic musician and now a Director,  has worked for The Music Well for some years with elderly groups and he is very experienced in the field of dementia. He will set up two groups locally using iPads to develop interactive music  activities. IPads are being used more and more in groups like this, and the Music Well Directors are excited to be at the forefront of this new experience.

The singing group “Singing for Wellbeing” , set up by the Music Well, has gone from strength to strength and the Directors hope to bring forward more new initiatives in the next year like looking at connecting and working with mental health services for young people.

There was discussion about the possibility of setting up a network of Friends for the Music Well who would support the ethos of the Charity, but also help with much needed fundraising for its vital work with vulnerable children. Anyone interested in becoming a friend, or would like to know more about the work of the Music Well, or even join the singing group, go to, or email



Photo: The Music Well

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