Photo Credit: Church in Wales
A vicar who is transforming the lives of children through a ground-breaking orchestral music project has been given a prestigious award for her work by David Cameron.
The Revd Jan Gould, of the Church of Resurrection in Ely, was the latest recipient of a Point of Light award from the Prime Minister, David Cameron, during a reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate St David’s Day.
She was presented with the award for her work with the ‘Making Music Changing Lives’ project, which she set up six years ago to give children on a city estate hope and ambition for the future through the opportunity of being able to learn a musical instrument.
The Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
Jan, a professional viola player before she trained for the priesthood, has amassed an army of volunteers from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and professional musicians, to teach music to over 70 children from primary schools in her church hall each week. The programme also caters for two high schools.
Jan, was inspired to start ‘Making Music Changing Lives’ after seeing a similar programme in Venezuela first-hand. The El Sistema scheme began by giving violin lessons to street children. Jan felt that if it could work in Venezuela, then it could work in Ely too.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Through ‘Making Music Changing Lives’, Revd Jan Gould has given Cardiff school children the opportunity to learn a music instrument and is creating a lasting legacy in her community. Her passion for the scheme is infectious and I’m pleased to present her with this Points of Light award.”
Jan said: “I see this award as a recognition of the important contribution that ‘Making Music Changing Lives’ makes to transforming young lives through the power of music. This work would not be possible without a whole lot of people, teachers and volunteers, who share my belief in the importance of accessible music education for all. On behalf of all those people, and the children we work with, I am delighted to receive this award.
“I feel as though I do not really deserve this award as I am just doing something that I love but I welcome anything that helps to raise the profile of the project.”
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, who is also Bishop of Llandaff said, “This award is well deserved and recognises all the great work carried out by the Revd Jan Gould and her volunteers at ‘Making Music Changing Lives’. This is a fantastic project which is making a real difference to the lives of so many children.”
Jan has also started pre-school music classes for children aged two and over, giving them a first introduction to live music. Additionally, Jan has introduced ‘Feel Good Fridays’, for 120 children to enjoy a 30 minute concert of live music at least once a month.
‘Making Music Changing Lives’ currently runs in Ely and Caerau, Cardiff and includes students from Hywel Dda, Herbert Thompson, St Francis, St Fagans , Windsor Clive, Millbank and Coed Y Gof primary schools. The children who take part can choose from a variety of instruments to learn and two classes now run every week for brass, strings and woodwind. Such is the success of the groups that some of the children were chosen to perform their music on the BBC’s Songs of Praise last year. Jan is keen to encourage as many children as possible to learn a musical instrument and has plans for ‘Making Music Changing Lives’ to expand across Wales.