To explain the background to the charity, we have to go back to 1984, when Music Therapy was virtually unknown in North Yorkshire. At that time, Mary and Raymond Abbotson set up a music therapy practice, working at their home near the North Yorks Moors. Mary had trained as a Music Therapist in the 1970s on the Nordoff-Robbins course in London, and Raymond had been a Headteacher of a Special School in Liverpool. As their practice became established, Mary and Raymond were concerned by the long distances that families were having to travel in order to access music therapy and so in 1988, they fulfilled their vision of delivering therapy in a mobile unit designed by Raymond, custom built to house a keyboard, computer and room for instruments to be transported.
The Abbotsons worked hard to set up the infrastructure for an organisation with charitable status, registering the North Yorkshire Music Therapy Centre (NYMTC) with the Charity Commission in 1990. The ethos of the charity was based on Quaker principles and the approach of Nordoff and Robbins. The main considerations were:
• Every person has a right to be creative, regardless of illness or disability
• Care can best be provided in a holistic way, taking into account all areas of a person’s life
Mary and Raymond made application to a number of Charitable Trusts including the ITV Telethon and gathered up sufficient funds to commission a purpose built van created by Plaxton Ltd, coach makers in Scarborough.
The mobile unit was a Luton van, carpeted inside with steps for access and provision for heating, lighting, running water and video recording. An electronic keyboard was installed as well as a computer and space for acoustic instruments. Working with the Electronics Centre and Department of Electronics at the University of York they equipped the van to the highest specification, allowing for a variety of MIDI based technology to be used.
The mobile unit was conspicuous on the roads of North Yorkshire from 1992 – 1998, providing a versatile workspace and acting as an excellent promotional tool with its prominent livery. (1)
In more recent years the charity's team has introduced music therapy into schools, care homes, hospitals and private homes. Therapy space is provided and there is no longer a requirement for the mobile unit.
In 2000, at a time when we were welcoming new trustees and therapists and saying goodbye to those who had worked so hard for the charity, we saw the establishment of a fundraising committee, a "Friends" scheme and the support of our Patrons.
We also introduced a fund "Music, My Voice" to enable us to subsidise sessions for children and young people. Since then we have raised over £300,000 through the generous support of Charitable Trusts and individual donors. Alll donations are gratefully received.
(1) Harrison, A 2012. 'Music, My Voice', Projects for Children: The Developent of One Aspect of a Community-based Music Therapy Service in York and North Yorkshire. In: Tomlinson, J, Derrington, P and Oldfield, A (Eds) Music Therapy in Schools, Working with Children of All Ages in Mainstream and Special Education. Jessica Kingsley Publishers: London, pp 117 - 132