Last week I began filming for my latest documentary; a film following students of Southend Mencap music school as they prepare for their popular annual Christmas concerts and a forthcoming world-record attempt.
The school was founded by Cllr. David Stanley, a charismatic, energetic and hugely talented composer and musician. His vision was to set up regular music workshops for children and adults with learning difficulties and to inspire, encourage and educate through the arts.
During my first visit to the school, I filmed students rehearsing a number of choral and instrumental pieces which they are set to perform at two forthcoming Christmas concerts. I soon found myself in awe of the commitment and achievement that was immediately evident.
David led two one-and-a-half workshops during Saturday morning and the amount of work covered in each was very impressive. The energy and camaraderie in the room was inspirational, thanks in no small part to David’s relentless, inspired piano performance and boundless encouragement of the group. It is obvious that many of the individuals who attend Mencap music school have clearly made strong friendships for life. They are probably the friendliest group of students I have ever met!
Many kind individuals volunteer so much of their precious time to make things like this happen. Witnessing such an unpretentious group of people create amazing opportunities for those less fortunate is a stark reminder of what Christmas is really about.