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Issue 6077

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Brass for Africa celebrates success

Sunday 10 January, 2021

The year 2021 has started very well for Brass for Africa, with the charity’s founder and executive director, Jim Trott, recognised with an MBE in the Queen’s New Year honours list.

British Bandsman editor Mark Good hears from the organisation’s leader on the significance of his award and Brass for Africa’s ongoing work amid a challenging global climate.

 

A rare glimmer of positive news shone through bulletins recently, with the announcement of the latest recipients of the Queen’s New Year honours. Among those being recognised for their sterling contributions was Jim Trott, honoured for his role as the founder and driving force behind Brass for Africa, a charity with 46 employees that delivers music education with integrated life-skills training to more than 1,000 disadvantaged children and young people in Uganda, Liberia and Rwanda.

The news reached Jim, who is an airline pilot in his professional life, towards the end of last year and he admitted it came somewhat out of the blue. “I wasn’t expecting this at all so it really was the most wonderful surprise. I received an email from the awards committee, which I read and re-read several times, just in case it was a wind-up. Initially, I felt a bit uneasy about sharing it because I know some people are facing some really bad news at the moment, with everything that is going on, but this is a reflection upon everyone involved in Brass for Africa and the wonderful work they are doing to help young people – and brass bands are at the heart of it.”

The announcement came as Brass for Africa prepared to hold a round of online team meetings with staff in Africa, looking to the year ahead. It was a welcome boost for an organisation which has not been immune from the challenges of the past few months. The key, Jim explained, has been to adapt quickly. “Like countries around the world, the onset of the pandemic brought various lockdown measures and for a while, we had to suspend our activities. We were keen to maintain interactions and keep our programmes going as best we could so early on, we started communicating with our team leaders and teaching them to use programmes like Zoom and Facebook Messenger. Teachers now have smartphones and tablets and data can be added to them remotely, helping greatly with lines of communication. Now, measures have been relaxed to the extent that in Uganda, some in-person activities can take place but technology is still playing a crucial role in helping us reach some of those involved, especially in outlying areas.”

The importance of Brass for Africa’s work cannot be underestimated...

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