News – Archive

Sunbeams Silver Dreams. Read more…
Arts Council support. Read more…
Big Lottery Fund. Read more…
Big Lottery update. Read more…

Making music. Read more…
BBC Children In Need 2011. Read more…
South Lakes raises money. Read more…
Sunbeams on TV. Read more…


Lottery Sunbeams Rise Over Older People in the North West

“Life is still sweet at 80!”


On June 18th The Daily Mail and the Big Lottery Fund awarded more than £6 million to charities and organisations helping to improve the lives of older people. The joint initiative, known as the Silver Dreams Fund, is part of a wider campaign to distribute National Lottery grants totaling £110 million to the most inspirational and worthy projects. In the spirit of the Daily Mail’s long-running Dignity for the Elderly campaign, the money was given to causes that will enhance the lives of older people and recognise the contribution they make to society.

Nat Sloane, chairman of the Big Lottery Fund England, said the projects chosen ‘would value and recognise the positive contribution older people make to society now and into the future, and provide support that meets their needs.’

We at Sunbeams are thrilled to tell you that our Sunbeams Music For Dignity® application was successful.

This is how our news was announced on the Big Lottery North West Website. Do listen to Pauline’s audio clip, and keep watching our web-site for ongoing photographs of our Music For Dignity® project – our new pioneering programme which is now launched in Cleator Moor in West Cumbria.

An older people’s music group and new community ventures including restoring furniture and repairing bicycles are just some of the ways innovative projects across the North West will be supporting and working with older people.

Three creative North West projects for older people today share a slice from a £6 million England-wide funding announcement from the Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams programme in association with the Daily Mail.

“You’re never to old too have fun” says one Silver Liner who along with other older people across West Cumbria is hoping to do everything to ensure that “life is still sweet at 80” through their Silver Liners music and performance group.

In Cumbria 27% of residents are aged 60 plus compared to 22% nationally. In Copeland, projections suggest the 65 plus age group will increase to 30% by 2033, above average for England. Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust receives £144,622 today for its Music For Dignity® project which will work with the Silver Liners music group to make a different to older people in the area.

Sunbeams is aiming to work with over 130 older people in the area with a range of complex physical and mental health needs who are rurally isolated. Through music, the project will help them to find new ways to cope with life-changing events, such as the transition into care, bereavement, or coping with their long-term illnesses.

The community led initiative will start with the Silver Liners – 12 wheelchair users aged 50 to 97 – guided by two professional Sunbeams musicians who will build their musical repertoire and perform concerts with 120 less active older people in care homes and at the Civic Hall. Interactive music rehearsals and concerts will help older people deal with the strain of day-to-day life and give them back their quality of life.

Annie Mawson, who founded Sunbeams 28 years ago said: “I am absolutely delighted that our application to Silver Dreams has been successful. We are all so passionate about our delivery of Community Music Sessions throughout Cumbria, and to be able to pioneer our new Music For Dignity® programme in my home town of Cleator Moor is so exciting. The project places a specific emphasis on enabling older people to find new ways to cope.

Despite health deterioration, this age group do not want to be a silent majority anymore, but want to have a voice – literally, and remain active where possible.

Annie continued, “Music is a powerful stimulus for older people, promoting the ability within the disability, and helping to alleviate their feelings of exclusion, vulnerability and isolation. We cannot wait to get started, and as the Silver Liners themselves said they want to make their wheelchairs invisible.



Arts Council England Supports Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust

June 2012
Following a successful application to the Grants for the Arts programme, we were thrilled to announce that Arts Council England had provided Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust, (Sunbeams), with an award of £83,267 towards the costs of the Sunbeams Music Centre.

Grants for the Arts is a programme funded by the National Lottery and awards funding for activities carried out over a set period, which engage people in England in arts activities, and help artists and arts organisations in England carry out their work.

The funding was used for the build of a recording studio and music room at the proposed Sunbeams Music Centre. The Centre will improve access and provide specialist facilities for the delivery of training, performance and education through the Arts to disadvantaged and disabled children, families and adults.

Liesl McViety, Project Co-ordinator of Sunbeams explained ‘We were delighted with the news and extremely grateful to the Arts Council. The Centre enables us to increase our delivery to an additional 1,800 severely disabled people on our waiting list. With the support of the Arts Council, we are now a step closer to providing a sustainable legacy for people with disabilities.’



Big Lottery: Sunbeams Family Learning Music Project

Update: June 2012

As we begin our fourth year of our Family Learning Project, supported by a grant of £464,498 from the Big Lottery over a four-year period, we are delighted to announce that we have been successful with an application to the Big Lottery’s Supporting Change and Impact Fund for a further year’s funding for this project!

The Big Lottery Fund has awarded 36 of its grant holders in the North West region an extra year’s worth of funding to enable them to continue their work through the tough economic environment. Projects sharing in the funding – totalling over £4.9 million – provide vital services to some of the most vulnerable groups in society. Many face an uncertain future as their Lottery funding comes to an end, compounded by increasing demand from beneficiaries as other services are forced to scale back or close down, and welfare reforms begin to take effect.

Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust (Sunbeams) will receive a vital grant of £126,275 in order to cope with a dramatic rise in the number of beneficiaries and introduce additional therapy sessions.
The project, for families from highly deprived areas of Cumbria who have children with severe and debilitating disabilities, is delivered in Kendal, Carlisle and Barrow and is now reaching 136 families and 473 family members!

Many children with profound disabilities face serious communication problems so, as well as enabling families to learn and improve their skills together, the project continues to help family members interact more positively, improve their confidence, and strengthen their relationships.

The sessions feature dance, movement and music, especially singing, all accompanied by sign language and embedded with word activities to help families improve their literacy skills.

Annie Mawson, founder and Chief Executive of Sunbeams , said: “The Sunbeams approach is unique – renowned for its effective delivery to people marginalised by disability and/or isolation. We have consistently exceeded our projected outcomes over the past three years, which is why this funding is SO important to us. For example In Barrow, we hoped to serve 16 families for children with complex medical needs, but already this figure stands at 45, and 151 family members instead of the expected 80. It is impossible to turn vulnerable people away.”

Over the past 3 years, we have seen significant improvements in the children’s social skills, their communication skills and even improvements in the children’s physical health.

“ … finds the environment relaxing and non-threatening. This allows him to enjoy the music, interact socially with other children and be exposed to experiences, which he would not otherwise be able to benefit from. Being able to ‘get up close’ to instruments such as harps, guitars, clarinets etc is wonderful for his general learning.”

‘Thank you again to every one at sunbeams; it is a perfect name as it is the place where every child shines.’
Debbie, Lucy’s Mum.

Bernie in Barrow is a real star on the drums!


Big Lottery Fund Update

Families of profoundly disabled children in Cumbria will have the opportunity to learn together and improve their literacy skills through a range of specialist music workshops following a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust has been awarded £464,498 for the new four-year project, which is aimed at families from highly deprived areas of Cumbria who have children with severe and debilitating disabilities, such as quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

The Music For Life® workshops will feature dance, movement and music, especially singing, which will be accompanied by sign language and embedded with word activities to help families improve their literacy skills. They will be based at four venues near Carlisle, Barrow and Kendal and will be open to all family members, including grandparents and siblings.

Many children with profound disabilities face serious communication problems so, as well as enabling families to learn and improve their skills together, the project hopes to help family members interact more positively, improve their confidence, and strengthen their relationships.


Quote from Parent:

One of the parents whose family took part in the Pilot last year commented, “I have learnt so much about my daughter’s ability – not her disability. It is amazing to see her grow in these sessions, despite her complex physical and learning difficulties. As a family we have already gained enormous benefits from her interactions during the Sunbeams Music workshops. We do hope they will continue.”


Quote from Annie:

On hearing news of the award, Annie Mawson the founder of Sunbeams said, “It is a great honour to have the opportunity to work with these vulnerable families. We are thrilled to be able to extend our work and help so many families improve their quality of life and their life chances. It is wonderful that the Big Lottery have recognised that Sunbeams is one of the most innovative, high achieving, ‘hands on’ organisations in the North West Region.”


We are thrilled to receive this funding from the Big Lottery especially having recently received the unfortunate news that the sale of our Eleanor Rigby Ledger has fallen through.


Making Music

Thanks to a National Lottery grant from Awards for All, Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust has teamed up with the Eden Valley Hospice to offer children with severe physical disabilities and life limiting illnesses the opportunity to make music. Two of Sunbeams professional musicians, Veronica Perrin and Alison Horn, are currently with two different age groups of 6 children; from 0-8 year olds and 9-16 year olds participating on a fortnightly basis, delivering 48 workshops over the coming year giving a real opportunity for the children and their carers to develop their creative freedom with music and sound in familiar and comfortable surroundings.
On hearing that the funding had come through from Awards For All Gillian Webster, Head of Care at the Eden Valley Children’s Hospice, said, “I cannot put into words how much of a difference this Sunbeams project will make to the lives of the children, young people and their families who we have the privilege to care for at the Hospice. When I told the care team the news they were absolutely delighted”.

The project will be overseen by the Sunbeams Music Trust founder and Chief Executive, Annie Mawson. Annie is equally delighted, and is thrilled to continue her long association with the Hospice.

From left to right: Alison Horn, Annie Mawson, Gillian Webster
and Veronica Perrin at Eden Valley Hospice

BBC Children In Need 2011

Sunbeams have great links with the BBC and Children in Need, and this year they asked to feature Sunbeams..

Young Olly, who comes to our monthly session at Sandgate School in Kendal, appeared in an article in the Boots magazine…


And we were thrilled to also be asked to feature on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ programme, broadcast on 18 th November 2011 as part of their coverage of Children in Need.

Nick Holmes came along to our monthly Family Learning project at Sandgate School in Kendal and interviewed Annie, Liesl and some of the family members and children attending the session.

We also got mentioned in the Westmorland Gazette’s coverage of the event


South Lakes raises thousands of pounds for Children in Need

11:58 am Tuesday 22nd November 2011

By Daniel Orr


PEOPLE of all ages got together across South Lakeland to help raise funds for Children in Need… BBC Radio 3 visited one of the monthly Saturday morning sessions run by charity Sunbeams Music Trust at Kendal’s Sandgate School, .

The Greystoke-based organisation provides community music sessions to people of all ages with special needs in Cumbria and does a lot of work in the south of the county.

The Sandgate sessions, which have been operating for 18 years, was one of the first projects the charity set up and they are funded by Children in Need. They include interactive music sessions for children, siblings, parents and carers.

“There is a mix of songs, dance and sign language to stimulate the children, many of whom find it difficult to speak but can sing,” said Sunbeams founder and chief executive Annie Mawson.

“They are very fun and stimulating sessions which encourage the children to communicate. This year Radio 3 came along and recorded music and interviewed some of the children. The result was featured on ‘In Tune’. If you didn’t manage to hear the programme then please visit the BBC Radio 3 website and previous episodes of the show should be available on the BBC iplayer.”

BBC Children In Need


Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust and Children in Need have appeared across the region on the BBC Look North programme, featuring 40 children with severe physical and learning disabilities.

The monies donated to Sunbeams from Children in Need will pay for music workshops in Kendal and Ulverston for children with physical and learning difficulties. The sessions, which are already running, will be able to continue over the next year thanks to the donations. The fortnightly and monthly sessions help nearly 40 children with disabilities and are run by three professional musicians – Ruth Bell, pianist and dancer, Laura Haughey who is also a trained physiotherapist and signer, and Annie Mawson herself – the Chief Executive of Sunbeams and an international singer and harpist.

Harry plays Annie’s harp at the South Lakes group for children with disabilities

Annie said, “So many exciting things are happening at the moment for Sunbeams. The money from Children in Need will keep two very important sessions going for the next year.”

“As the founder of Sunbeams, it is uplifting when people recognise all the effective and good work which we do and most importantly see the effects this work has on the children.”

“We all had a fantastic time filming our story for Children in Need and when it was broadcast it was very exciting. The BBC presenter, Lara Rostron, was so helpful and gave advice and sensitive encouragement during the afternoon’s filming which took place at Sandgate School, where the children meet on Saturday mornings. Lara herself found the Sunbeams team ‘inspirational’, and couldn’t wait to spread the news about all the wonderful work which goes on here.”

Click here to watch our Children in Need video!

Sunbeams has been established since 1992. The charity helps disabled children and families communicate through music and movement. Last year the charity helped over 18,737 special needs people of all ages throughout the north of England.

For more information please contact Annie Mawson on 017688 92909.

BBC Children In Need’s Pudsey Bear with BBC Look North’s Paul Mooney having fun at the
South Lakes Children session

We were thrilled when the BBC chose Sunbeams as their special media partner. The BBC Look North team wanted a ‘wow’ project to celebrate their BBC Children In Need day in November – and that’s what we gave them with our 48 families from our South Lakes Out-of-School Club.

It was fantastic to watch our special children being highlighted during transmission of the BBC Children in Need show hosted by Terry Wogan. What a thrill!