How we formed

How we formed 

The Trust was set up in 1995 in memory of Irene Taylor, the wife of the late Lord Chief Justice Peter Taylor, who had a personal interest in both penal reform and music. Whilst on the selection panel for the Butler Trust prison awards scheme, Irene came across Sara Lee, who was at that time music co-ordinator at HMP Wormwood Scrubs, and was excited and inspired by Sara’s work. Following Irene’s death in 1995, the Taylor family decided to set up a charity that would continue to do the work that she had been so in favour of, and invited Sara to set up the Irene Taylor Trust Music in Prisons programme.

“Looking back, so many things are still clear in my mind; what it felt like to call in the first favour from an education manager who said to me one day, ‘Just let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,’ only to find himself fully occupied in organising our first ever project in prison; and, of course, the final moments of every project we have ever delivered – always full of relief, exhaustion, elation and a huge amount of pride for all those who have been involved.”
Sara Lee, Artistic Director

The Trust began its working life in Sara’s front room, with Sara organising and delivering three projects in the first year at HMP Kingston, HMP Bristol and HMP Ashwell, accompanied by Nick Hayes, with whom she had previously studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

“The first project at HMP Kingston was two and half days long and I felt very nervous. I was learning how to lead a group very much on the spot. Over the years, we have learned about how to interact with people; to support, encourage and gently push them without knocking their confidence.” 
Nick Hayes, Project Leader


These initial three projects were instrumental in developing the Music in Prisons model, focusing on supporting participants to create original music as band, to be performed live to an audience and recorded for a CD, all in just 5 days.

“I’ve been fortunate to be involved with Music in Prisons from the start and to have seen Irene Taylor’s vision come to reality. We have succeeded because this vision is a true one and the projects work. Through music we bring into the grim reality of the prison regime hope for life inside and for a future life outside. Music gives the men, women and young offenders the all-important sense of self; self-belief, self-confidence, self-worth.” 
Sarah Price, inaugural Chair of the Irene Taylor Trust

The Trust has grown gradually and organically in response the the needs of our beneficiaries; in 2012 we developed two new strands of work to extend the scope of our work, with our Making Tracks programme for NEET young people in the local community, and the Sounding Out programme for ex-prisoners who we first met on our prison projects, helping them to rebuild their lives on release.

“I know that mum would feel immensely proud, firstly that the Trust was named after her and, secondly, of everything that has been achieved in her name. Were she still around, mum would have been interested and involved, never taking over and entirely in tune with the Trust’s ethos. She would have brought to it her warmth, her wonderful skills with people, a load of common sense and her usual sparkle and humour. A wonderful and fitting memorial.” 
Ruth Taylor, daughter of Irene Taylor

Since 1995 we have worked with thousands of people and won awards; our expertise has been sought around the globe; we’ve made lots of great original music in the process: Find out more about all we’ve achieved in Our Track Record.

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