A vicar who is transforming the lives of inner city children through a ground-breaking orchestral music project has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
Also honoured is a judge who has served on the Church’s courts and as a diocesan chancellor.
The Revd Jan Gould receives a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Ely, Cardiff, in the Honours published today (DEC 31). Gerard Elias QC, Welsh Assembly Standards Commissioner, is awarded a CBE.
Jan has served the community as priest-in-charge of the Church of the Resurrection in the benefice of Glan Ely, Cardiff, for the past 10 years. She set up the Making Music Changing Lives project seven years ago to give children on the city estate hope and ambition for the future through the opportunity of being able to learn a musical instrument.
She was inspired after hearing the national youth orchestra from a similar programme in Venezuela. The El Sistema scheme began by giving violin lessons to street children. Jan felt that if it could work in Venezuela, then it could work in Ely too.
Jan, a professional viola player before she trained for the priesthood, has amassed an army of volunteers from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and professional musicians, to teach music to around 40 children from local primary and high schools in her church hall each week.
In 2015, Jan was presented with a Points of Light award by the Prime Minister in recognition of project.
Receiving the BEM, Jan said, “It is a real privilege to work with the people of Ely. I am very humbled by this award, and I look forward to many more years of being the Parish Priest of this wonderful community, where I see the Spirit of God at work in so many lives.”
She was congratulated by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, who said, “The Making Music Changing Lives project is not just about music, it is about transforming children’s lives and it would not have happened without Jan’s drive and enthusiasm. She has opened up a whole new world to young children and this honour is well deserved.”
Gerard Elias was Chancellor of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon from 1999 until recently.
He served as President of the Church’s Disciplinary Tribunal for eight years and is now on the Church’s Provincial Court – the senior court in the Church and also the appeal court to the Disciplinary Tribunal. In 2009 he reviewed the whole of the court system for the Church.
Archbishop Barry said, “Gerard has been a valuable supporter of the Church for more than 40 years. His contribution has been tireless and freely given. His expertise, energy and support has been invaluable to the Church operating a court system which is fit for purpose. We offer him our congratulations on receiving this honour.”
The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon added, “Gerard’s service to us as Chancellor of the diocese was exemplary and I am delighted that both he and Jan Gould have been honoured.”
Making Music Changing Lives currently runs in Ely and Caerau, Cardiff and includes students from Hywel Dda, Herbert Thompson, St Francis, St Fagans, Windsor Clive, Millbank and Coed Y Gof primary schools and Mary Immaculate, Bishop of Llandaff, St Josephs, and Michaelson Glyn Derw high schools . The children who take part can choose from a variety of instruments to learn and classes run every Tuesday for brass, strings and woodwind. The students are also taught theory of music. Such is the success of the groups that some of the children have performed their music on the BBC’s Songs of Praise. Quite a few have now taken practical and theory exams with many gaining high distinctions. Jan is keen to encourage as many children as possible to learn a musical instrument and would love to see ‘Making Music Changing Lives’ expand across Wales.
Also under the banner of Making Music Changing Lives are pre-school music classes for children aged two and over, giving them a first introduction to live music. Additionally, there are regular ‘Feel Good Fridays’, where up to 120 children visit the church hall to enjoy a 40 minute concert of live music.
In addition to this ground breaking musical programme, Jan has always been very involved in the wider community through her ministry as the parish priest, and on a number of occasions has been at the centre of co-ordinating support for those involved in tragedies within the community.