Praise for music charity which supports disabled people as new boss takes the helm
- Credit: Geraldine Scott
A charity which brings music into the lives of people with disabilities and complex needs is entering a new era as a fresh face takes the helm.
Norwich-based Musical Keys has been run by Sallie Eastick, who was a founder member of the charity, for 27 years.
But now she is handing over to Edward Maxfield, who has previously worked for north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.
Mrs Eastick, 70, said: 'I have been privileged to work with so many amazing families and organisations since we set up the charity. I have been so well supported by our office team, workshop leaders, volunteers, and trustees, past and present. However, we all have to face up to getting older and I want to pass over the baton while I am still upright and able to offer support to my successor.'
The charity offers sessions across the county which helps people develop confidence, have fun, and help tune fine motor skills.
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Alison Ridley, from Attlebridge near Taverham, takes her eight-year-old son Joseph to a Saturday morning session at City College, Norwich, every week.
Joseph has significant learning disabilities, deletion on one of his chromosomes, and a speech disorder amongst other conditions.
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Mrs Ridley said: 'He loves music, he's not shy or anything so he just loves it, he loves meeting people and it's something for us to do, to get out and about.'
Mrs Ridley said there was not other provision like it, especially at the weekend, which could mean they ended up cooped up at home.
She said: 'We would be really stuck without it. At home he loves talking about friends at Musical Keys, and the first thing he will say to me when I pick him up from school on a Friday is Musical Keys. He knows he's coming so on a Saturday he wakes up really early and the people here are amazing, they give us so much support.'
Mrs Ridley said the charity had made such an impact on her family that when her mother-in-law gets married instead of gifts, donations will be made to Musical Keys.
Five years ago the charity had to suspend some groups after grants from charitable trusts and foundations dried up.
But Mr Maxfield is determined that would not happen again, despite the sector being challenging.
He said: 'We can go in one of two directions. We can get money from donors - we do a lot of that - or we can have a situation where we are effectively working for the local authority or NHS providing services. But the commissioned work is getting smaller and smaller.
'So the biggest challenge for me is it's all about making sure we can reach people.'
He also praised Mrs Eastick for her work. He said: 'Sallie is an inspiration and the whole Musical Keys family are doing fantastic work. So many people I meet have been touched by the work of the charity, it is a real privilege to join the team.'
'Charities like Musical Keys have a vital role to play in supporting families to live full lives as independently as possible. There is a growing recognition that organisations like ours make a real difference to the wellbeing of the families who use our services.'