A cyclist who pedalled nearly a thousand miles to fund a piece of musical equipment for a children’s hospice admitted being “filled with joy” after hearing the difference it is making already. Steve Swindon took on various challenges in order to raise enough to buy the sound cradle – an instrument made from layers of beech and birch veneer, bonded together to create a semi-circular shape and used in music therapy sessions.
He first learnt of the power of the sound cradle through his partner, Jane Rous-Milligan, who is music therapist at The Nook, near Norwich. It can be laid, stood vertically to provide a ‘sound shower’ or turned upside down like a dome.
On each side are 18 strings, which are tuned to a monochord. When played, they resonate the entire instrument – a resonance felt intensely throughout the body, providing a sense of safety and containment. Jane describes it as a sound hug. EACH had a sound cradle at The Nook and The Treehouse, in Ipswich, but not at its Milton base.
Now the charity has been able to buy one and it is already proving popular with children, young people and families receiving care and support. Steve saw it first-hand during a recent trip to Milton, where he was given a tour, sampled the new kit and met music therapist Katherine Walters.
“It was lovely to receive such a warm welcome,” said Steve, who lives in Holt and, with another £500 coming in since his visit, has now raised more than £4,800.
“I really enjoyed it and there’s such a lovely vibe at the EACH hospices. It was especially poignant to see the sound cradle in situ and speak to Katherine.
“To hear the difference it’s making filled me with joy and made me very proud. I had the most incredible summer of cycling, including visiting the three hospices and the factory where sound cradles are produced in Germany.
“It gave me so many memories and I’m grateful to everyone who supported me along the way, especially those who donated and made this amazing purchase possible. People were incredibly kind.”
Steve raised funds by completing the 100-mile RideLondon event, the 200-mile Round Norfolk Epic and the 112-mile Dunwich Dynamo overnighter. He and friend Mike Hill then arranged a special ride to the factory where the cradles are made, in Bad Zwesten, Germany. Their total cycling distance for the trip was just short of 400 miles.
His final ride of the year saw him visit all three EACH hospices – a journey of around 175 miles, bringing his approximate distance for the year to 982 miles. Katherine said: “It’s wonderful to have a sound cradle at Milton and we’re so grateful to Steve.
“It’s an instrument that can provide an invaluable shared experience for children and parents at a time when they may be feeling very out of control in other areas of their lives. We’ve had parents hugging their child while both enjoy the instrument’s relaxing effects. Parents can also be supported and empowered to play the instrument while their child is lying in it.
“It also provides a lovely experience for our nurses and carers to learn how to play it with children who are less mobile but also benefit from the resonance of the instrument when lying in it. Unlike other sharable instruments, the look and feel of the sound cradle draws people to want to strum it and have a go.”
Committed Steve already has further ideas in the pipeline and hopes to raise more funds next year. To show your support and make a donation, head here. Steve is due to talk about his experiences at this year’s EACH North Norfolk carol service, on 5th December.