History – how Sound Waves South West began

by Judyth Gwynne, founder of SWSW, written in 2001

As a writer I became interested in the many different roles played by music in people’s lives, initially through my disabled daughter, who due to suffering Encephalitis at a period when she was just learning to walk, lost her balance and ability to avoid obstructions in her path, together with a semi paralysed arm. The medical profession at that time told me she most probably would never walk or talk. I, as her mother would not accept this and decided she should be stimulated and encouraged in every way possible to lead a normal life. Throughout the years her body developed normally, and it became apparent that there was an intelligent young person ‘locked in’ by her seeming disability to quickly process thought and muster a response; however this was soon overcome by allowing her to go away and think about the query that had been made, or opinion asked for, when she would return with a perfectly reasoned reply. By the time she had grown to the age of 17 she was able to reply normally to any questions made to her relating to everyday occurrences or previous experiences that she could draw on, and I was able to send her to a College of Art at 30, where she obtained a B Tech 1st Diploma. It was in this period of increased communication skills that she explained to me that ‘music saved my life’. It was with this small clue demonstrating the power of music, and its ability to increase communication that I commenced my two-and-a-half-year research into the subject, leading to my finding the existence of a new therapy through music.

My first important interview was with Professor Leslie Bunt of the MusicSpace Trust in Bristol, who gave me much encouragement by telling me that I was the right person to carry out a project that was slowly forming in my mind, to found a Centre for Music and Music Therapy here in North Cornwall. Whilst in Bristol I also met Cathy Durham of the British Society for Music Therapy and Jenefer Lowe, Arts Officer, Cornwall County Council. From these important meetings I learnt of the existence of a Centre for Music in Christchurch that was a going concern, and arranged a visit to meet David Walters the founder and Director of the Coda Music Centre. It was from this visit I was able to see that a fully operational and financially independent Centre for Music was a possibility, and I then drew up details of an ideal Centre based on the one at Christchurch.

By early 2000 two friends came to help me with my project, and we formed ourselves into an informal Committee of three, extended shortly by a fourth member. Early in February 2000 it was decided that the way forward was to hold a Seminar and approximately 600 invitations were sent out to interested parties to attend a Seminar here in Bude with Professor Leslie Bunt, Dr. Gary Ansdell and Mr David Walters as guest Speakers. As Chairman I wound up the proceedings by asking the invited guests to vote for a resolution to see a Centre for Music and Music Therapy founded here in the region, which was passed unanimously. Further results of the Seminar were offers of voluntary assistance in different areas of expertise together with fund raising events on behalf of Sound Waves.
By December 2000 a formal Committee of six was established, all bringing their own specialist skills and knowledge to the benefit of the newly named ‘Sound Waves’. The first task undertaken by this newly enlarged Committee was to commence fund raising to enable a Charitable Trust to be formed. During this process we acquired a Logo and on the advice of our Solicitor a change of name to ‘Sound Waves South West Music and Music Therapy’ with the word ‘Trust’ to be added as soon as the formalities were completed with the Charity Commission. A set of ‘Aims’ was agreed at the same time.

At this period, during the inception of the formal Committee, it was also decided that the prudent way forward would be to divide our project into two phases, the first a Pilot scheme to provide a fully qualified Music Therapist on a three-year Contract working from suitable rented premises in the area, who would be engaged in both local and outreach work. As had been advised by both Professor Bunt and the British Society for Music Therapy, the Music Therapist should, due to the demanding nature of the work, only be engaged in carrying out Music Therapy sessions three days of the week, which would leave two days a week free to establish Kindermusik for the Under 5’s and an After School Music Club for children living in the area. Other areas would include providing Lectures and Workshops.
By Spring 2001, each of the eight Primary Schools which feed into Budehaven Community College was visited by Judyth Gwynne (Chair), Ann Kennedy (Schools Liaison) and Lucy Burrow (Artist in Residence). The School’s Head Teachers and their Music Specialists were keen to take advantage of the offer of Master Classes and Workshops that ‘Sound Waves’ would be able to offer, by arrangement. In addition, there would be an opportunity to offer the services of an artist (Lucy Burrow) who will give extra-curricular activities in the Spring/Summer of 2002 and a musical experience based on the Dehwelans (homecoming in the Cornish language).

In order to keep ‘Sound Waves’ in the public eye, and also to commence our added intentions as laid out in the ‘Aims’ the Committee organized the Bude Arts Festival in July of this year, and instituted the publication of a small booklet ‘On the Record’ which details music and music related events taking place in the area, copies of which were distributed through Information Centres free of charge. Several of the events taking place during the week-long Festival were given by the various Bands/Choirs in aid of funds for SWSW. Other fund-raising events have included Bric-a-Brac Sales, Musical Evenings and a Public Draw. It is the intention in the near future to also establish a Membership scheme for the Friends of SWSW, which will help provide a sure basis for day-to-day expenses.

At the time of writing there is a total of 63 Special Units within a 50-mile radius of Bude, some of whom have already expressed a wish to take part in our pilot scheme including the Plymouth Hospital School. At that time, Cornwall had been awarded HAZ (Health Action Zone) status and shows the need to help vulnerable children and young people with a high number of statements of special needs. This is highlighted by the Indices of local multi-deprivation relating to North Cornwall, in particular Health Deprivation and Disability. The extracts from letters of support represent a wide area of interest for this exciting and important new project.
Derek Kitt *(Cornwall Education Authority’s Music Advisor) visited Bude to speak to Judyth Gwynne and Ann Kennedy and pledged his support for the project. Derek supplied not only qualified musicians who offered music to children of all abilities in schools, but also Workshops and Master Classes from prestigious orchestras with whom he was familiar. He also indicated that there was funding available for specific events with schools. Derek Kitt was keen to keep in touch with developments of ‘Sound Waves South West’ and indicated that Cornwall’s Education Authority was leading the way in the South West for excellence in Music provision. Sadly Derek passed away in 2005.

Judyth Gwynne was Chair of SWSW from 2000 - 2017