Hospital music therapy classes face axe

The Oxford Times: Thomaz Lusby-Roberts in a music therapy session with Andy Stevens. Picture: OX65602 Richard Cave Buy this photo Thomaz Lusby-Roberts in a music therapy session with Andy Stevens. Picture: OX65602 Richard Cave

WEEKLY music therapy sessions at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital face the axe because of a funding crisis.

Managers of Rosie’s Rainbow Fund said donations – its only source of funding – only “scratch the surface” of the £50,000 needed each year.

It was set up in memory of Rosie Mayling, who attended Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, Berkshire, to help children facing long hospital stays.

She was diagnosed with vasculitis – where the blood vessels become inflamed – in 2002 and died of a pulmonary haemmorrage in 2003.

Its work includes Friday sessions at the JR with music therapist Andy Stevens and children can use drums, guitars, keyboards and iPads.

Rosie’s Rainbow Fund also puts on bereavement counselling and aromatherapy sessions at the hospital.

Founder Carolyn Mayling said: “It has been a tough year for the fund and in three months we will be operating on fumes. My biggest fear is that we will have to close the fund.

“To date we have done what we can, when we can but resources have been limited and current funds only scratch the surface of what we need.”

She fears staff could be given their notices in three months’ time because of a lack of funding.

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Mr Stevens said: “It is a chance for children to get involved in music-making to help them express themselves.

“It is a bit like a counselling session where I am the counsellor but we use a lot of music making.

“It is a chance for them to have a positive experience where they can be in control, boost their self esteem and I can be there to help them. It can be relaxing for children and exciting.”

Andy Roberts praised the music service for helping his son Thomaz Lusby-Roberts, who is blind and suffers from cerebral palsy, express himself.

Nine-year-old Thomaz has been in the JR for hip reconstruction surgery and Mr Roberts, from High Wycombe, said: “It is just amazing how much more co-operative he will be when there is music. “It helps the children recover and it relaxes children like Thomaz.”

Among those it has helped is nine-year-old Arlia Megson, also from High Wycombe, who has polyarteritis nodosa, a blood vessel disease in which small and medium-sized arteries become swollen and damaged.

Mum Debbie said: “I think they did such an amazing job.

“We’ve had a long road of ups and downs. It would be such a shame if they stop running these sessions, because they do such wonderful work. “We had been at the John Radcliffe a week and I can honestly say that was the first time I saw her smile. It really lifted her spirits.”

Charity patron and Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt, who also attended the theatre school, called for funds.

The star, who plays Anna Bates, said: “If Rosie’s Rainbow Fund was forced to shut down because of lack of funds many families and children would not get the amazing support.”

s For information visit rosiesrainbowfund.co.uk

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