Community and History
Registered Charity Number 1121851
TMP was set up in 2000 – over 21 years ago – as a response to a decline (even then) in instrumental teaching in state schools – at that time, there were literally hundreds of unused instruments across every Primary and Secondary School in Thetford, and no county teaching in any of them. John Weeks, who became Vice-Chair of TMP, suggested a local partnership group to do something about grassroots musical instrumental teaching, and David O’Neale, MBE became our first Director, with a small team of Music Service and freelance instrumental tutors and teachers, offering cut-price lessons on a Thursday afternoon, after school at Queensway School (now Diamond).
Since local management of school budgets, academisation, the withdrawal of County Music Services and a number of other political changes since that time, the picture has become if anything much more fragmented across England: yet in Thetford, over the past 21 years, sometimes more than a hundred young people a week have benefited from lessons and ensembles, affordably, and with increasingly high musical standards. Thanks to John, David (who very sadly died in 2014, aged only 59), and a loyal band of willing helpers, TMP has consistently delivered a total of some 30,000 hours of instrumental teaching, as well as bands, groups, concerts, charity events and other activities enabling talented and keen young Thetfordians and others a locally-accessible chance to learn to play and love music.
Mrs. Sylvia Armes, alongside her late husband, and former President, Colin, was from the very inception of TMP, a loyal advocate and – most importantly – critical friend to our project, always offering salient, well-timed and generous support. As our most eminent civic representative, Sylvia still brings huge skill and insight to our Committee meetings, and has done much, alongside Colin, to raise thousands of pounds to ensure the charity continues to be an attractive and affordable way of learning to play music, for the young people of Thetford, and well beyond..
We are honoured that Sylvia accepted the invitation to take over in the purely honorary role of TMP President, from Christmas, 2021.
Picture; Sylvia, as Thetford Town Mayor in 2014, with our second President, Colin Armes, who sadly died last year.
Robert Rickard (Chair, TMP) co-founded the charity in 1999, as part of an initiative uniting all the Music Coordinators in every school in Thetford, alongside Town, Breckland and County Councillors, Norfolk Music Service (now Hub) and other interested parties – in order to develop much-needed instrumental and ensemble music education, at low cost, for all interested young people in and around Thetford.
He deeply loves music, but has never got beyond beginner piano, but taught English in secondary schools (including in Thetford from 1995-2002), colleges, universities, and even a prison, since 1983; and has inspected and consulted on post-16 education nationally, and abroad. Since 2015 Robert has helped oversee all the sixth forms and colleges of Norfolk, in his post as 14-19 Adviser for the County Council but continues to support TMP as Chairman and a Trustee.
Sam Trayton joined Thetford Music Project as a student in its opening year and we’ve never been able to get rid of him! A vocal, piano, and brass student during his school years, Sam has continued his musical endeavours since TMP, performing with various groups, including Thetford Voices, Oxford Brookes’ Fortune Singers and the University of Leicester Big Band.
Now working as a member of the Student Life Team at University of East Anglia, Sam is a TMP Trustee and occasional MC for TMP concerts!
John Settle was actually one of the first club members of TMP, becoming a musician, partly as a result, and then returning, first as a tutor, and now as Trustee