My eldest daughter Heather is very artistic and whilst at school was very keen to study Art at university. Her aim was to have a career as an Art Therapist.
I remember the attitude of her school when we were discussing this with them, although I should say this was over 20 years ago. The careers advisers were quite dismissive suggesting that Art was not a subject that could lead to any real career.
Heather stuck to her plan and had my full support; she went on to study Fine Art and Printing in Brighton. Moving forward to the present Heather is a fully qualified Occupational Therapist using her skills to help people in the community every day. There are so many careers where artistic flare is of real value.
I moved from South Woodham Ferrers to Chelmsford in 2006 and decided that I would like to help my community. I stood for Chelmsford Council in 2007 and was elected to represent an area which still has pockets of depravation.
I was always being asked, ‘What is there for our children to do?’ so I decided that I would make children and young people one of my priorities, this continues to this day.
As an Essex County Councillor, I continue to chair the Chelmsford Youth Strategy Group (YSG) and have done for many years now. The YSG is within Essex Youth Services to commission a variety of activities usually but not exclusively targeting young people with specific needs or problems, these include sport, dance, arts and crafts, outdoor activities, mindfulness and much more.
Because of my work in this area, I was approached in late 2019 and asked if I would be interested in joining a group of people to help develop a very special creative and cultural project focusing on children and young people here in Chelmsford. It would be funded by Royal Opera House Bridge supported by Arts Council England to embed cultural education at a local level.
The idea of being involved with something that gave opportunities to our young people to experience a wide variety of creative and cultural activities really appealed to me and I accepted the challenge.
Things were delayed because of Covid19 however I was delighted to join the steering group to help get things moving. The Programme Manager Rachana Vaja is ensuring we are now getting on track by supporting some incubator projects and other ambitious plans.
It is wonderful that we can encourage the children and young people of Chelmsford to widen their horizons to share in and enjoy new cultural and creative experiences. Who knows maybe this could be the springboard for their new hobbies and possible career choices in the future.
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?