On 24th July 2022 we celebrated our 20th Birthday. Since 2002 we have helped over 7,000 young people from 140 schools and youth groups to write and record more than 1,700 songs & music videos. Here are 20 pictures/videos we wanted to share to celebrate this occasion.

If you’d like to celebrate with us by supporting our work with children in the UK and Africa, please click the Donate button.

1: The Studio at The Stables

Without the enormous generosity and loyal partnership of our very good friends at The Stables in Milton Keynes, UK, thousands of children would not have been able to record their songs in such a stunning and prestigious environment.  We are so grateful to Monica Ferguson and her superb team for their unwavering support and kindness.

…and to Joel Barford (and many others) for choosing us when needing some work experience 😎

2: The Notivate Singer/Songwriter Programme

In 2006 in partnership with Val Sabin Publications we first printed our creative music course for schools.  As well as being a lot of fun, the programme was designed to encourage children to realise their creative potential, expand their emotional awareness, develop their language, promote learning and general attainment, encourage listening and social skills, and strengthen relationships.  Everyone spends a day in a recording studio, which one child described as “the best day ever, apart from when my Dad took me to Wembley”  😂

3: Andy Crawley

In February 2021 we very sadly lost our Chief Engineer and great friend, Andy Crawley.  It’s fair to say that Notivate would not have existed without the expertise, support and encouragement of this brilliant man. Andy installed our UK recording studios, mastered thousands of children’s songs and engineered hundreds of recording sessions – but if anyone needed to talk, he always found time to listen.  This picture was taken at one of our residential songwriting/recording weeks at The Frontier Centre in Northamptonshire.

4: Jazz Crusade

Over the years we’ve brought ‘live’ music to thousands of children, introducing them to a range of styles and hopefully encouraging them to explore music beyond the mainstream.  This picture was taken at Boughton Primary School, during one of our Jazz tours of schools and youth clubs.  This stunning band, featuring our brilliant youth adviser at the time, Tom Barford, led numerous assemblies and improvisation workshops – often performing at 8.30 in the morning, which was obviously a pleasure 😊

5: Music Videos

In response to requests from young people taking part in our Singer/Songwriter Programme, we wanted to give participants the chance to produce videos to accompany their songs.  Thanks to the amazing generosity of Northamptonshire Community Foundation and in partnership with the brilliant Keyhole Media, we established our Music Video Programme 10 years ago.  Check out www.youtube.com/user/NotivateVideo to find some excellent videos brilliantly crafted by children and young people.

6: Nixon Katabira

As we look back over the last 20 years, we recognise that some encounters have truly life-changing consequences.  The word ‘inspirational’ is often over-used, but is totally appropriate when describing this wonderful and astonishing man.  Meeting the faithful, resilient and ever-resourceful Nixon inspired all our work in Africa. This photo was taken in the media centre that he conceived and designed, based at the idyllic Discovery Centre near Jinja in Uganda.

7: Richard Johnson

No single paragraph could go anywhere near doing justice to the importance and accomplishments of this wonderful man, who has hosted our visits to Uganda for the past 10 years.  Avoiding the limelight, but never avoiding hard labour, driven by his relentless faith, and unencumbered by pride or selfish ambition, Richard  founded The Discovery Centre and has overseen its work for nearly 30 years.  He has has quietly and tirelessly changed the world for the better.

8: Notivate Uganda

Please spare 4 minutes to watch this video.

9: Anti-Bullying Songwriting Competition

In partnership with Northamptonshire County Council,  Northamptonshire Community Foundation, Northampton School for Girls, and Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs, we’ve had the immense joy of running the annual Northants Anti-Bullying Songwriting Competition for several years.  This enabled 1,500 young people from 60 different schools and community groups to write and record 300 songs, addressing issues surrounding bullying.  Participants were invited to perform at a live concert, accompanied by a professional House Band, in front of an international panel of kind judges, and introduced by our wonderful on-stage hosts.

10: Philip Seydney

This is our very good friend and uniquely talented colleague, Philip, who leads Notivate Uganda.  We are so grateful that he has chosen to share his skills and experience as a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, videographer and teacher with the hundreds of children who visit the Media Centre in Jinja. Whether gently teaching a very young beginner, or supporting the development of an emerging talent, Philip generously applies his considerable knowledge and expertise in equal measure.  Under his leadership, we have seen increasing numbers of schools taking part in the programme, despite the devastating impact of the pandemic and its long-lasting impact on the local community.

11: Narilanto Rabesson

Narilanto has been a very good friend and champion of The Notivate Trust since the very early days, having visited The Stables to witness our work with school children while he was in the UK.  So were very pleased to have the opportunity to visit him in Madagascar in 2018. Narilanto is pioneering his own work in Antananarivo, energised by a deep and unwavering faith, that sees him thrive in some incredibly challenging circumstances. Inspired by a picture of Nixon standing in the foundations of the Media Centre in Uganda, here is Narilanto marking the location of the mixing desk in his planned recording studio.

12: Notivate Madagascar

During our first visit to Antanarivo, Narilanto introduced us to his highly talented and very generous colleagues from the Inside Out Worship band. Each member took part in our Music Leader Training Programme to enable them to offer the Notivate Singer/Songwriter Programme to their local community. Here they are recording a music video as part of their training.

13: Kabonesha Rose

Rose’s influence on our work in Africa and in the UK cannot be overstated. Here, in one of our favourite pictures, she is with Philip and Narilanto during a Notivate Uganda/Madagascar knowledge sharing week.  The list of wonderful things Rose has achieved is endless. To mention a few: leading the Notivate Uganda team from its infancy before handing over a thriving service to Philip; teaching children in UK schools about life in Uganda; organising and delivering food for her local community during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic; judging our Anti-bullying Songwriting Competition Final via video link; overseeing the opening ceremony for the Media Centre…  At the heart of everything Rose does is her deep love for children, inspired by her unshakable faith – as demonstrate in the “Arise & Shine” children’s group that she has led for many years. We will always be grateful for her guidance and friendship.

14: Teacher Training

One of the greatest privileges of our work is the opportunity to share our story with teaching professionals. As well as explaining the theory behind our programmes, we encourage teachers and youth workers to experience them first hand.  This gives them an understanding of the thoughts, feelings and emotions that can be exposed when exploring a theme through songwriting and recording. …and asking each one to stand at a microphone and sing a solo often brings some very interesting and powerful results!

15: On-site Songwriting/Recording Days

As suitable technology became available, we began to offer these bespoke on-site sessions. This enabled children to explore a theme, write lyrics, compose melodies, record vocals and produce a song – all in a day.  Through this activity we have been able to work with thousands of children by helping them to create original music for their own Shakespeare productions, end-of-year performances and transition programmes – or just for a great experience.  We are so grateful to all our partner schools, trusts and youth centres for welcoming us to their ‘homes’.

16: Isolation Song

In March 2020, when it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to meet in person for a while, we established this online songwriting and recording programme. Free of charge, this offered participants the chance to send us demos of original songs, recorded on mobile devices. We then provided backing music and fully mastered tracks, which we uploaded to our SoundCloud page. This provided a valuable service to many people, who needed a creative outlet and wanted express themselves during such an incredibly difficult time in their lives – some with humour and some with deep pathos. 

17: Notivate Music Leaders

Here are some of the many lovely people who have dedicated their time to lead our music programmes over the last 20 years.  We will always be grateful for their willingness to share their skills and experience to inspire so many children.  It has been a massive privilege to work with this hugely talented and wonderfully diverse collection of musicians, videographers and producers.

18: Our Beloved Patrons

We’d like to thank Justus Archangel, Martyna Wren, Ben Castle and Andrew Best for standing alongside us over the years.  These wonderful people bring an invaluable mixture of expertise and encouragement that helps to energise everything we do. As a group of highly respected professionals they provide an international wealth of experience in performance, songwriting, research and education. We are immensely proud and extremely grateful to be able to call them our friends.

19: The Management Team

It’s fair to say that without these marvellous people, Notivate wouldn’t exist.  Our Trustees, Administrator and Programme Director set the direction of the organisation and ensure we all work effectively “to inspire, support and encourage children and young people through music.”  They regularly meet together to share their combined experience across a wide range of professional backgrounds, driven by their collective passion to see young people’s lives transformed through music.  We are so grateful to Susan, Neil, John, Leigh, Dan, Carla, Peter, Hannah and Carolyn for their careful guidance and sacrificial commitment to Notivate. 🙏

20: The Notivators

Finally – and most importantly – we’d like to thank the thousands of children and young people who have entrusted us with their talents and shared their voices. It’s been a huge privilege and deeply inspiring to see so many confront their anxieties, articulate their own personal views and take creative risks to produce hundreds of wonderful compositions.  Our purpose has been to give them the freedom to express themselves, the chance to build respectful and trusting relationships, the opportunity to learn new skills, and the space to explore their abilities through creative activities.  We want each one to feel nervous, excited, confident, proud, satisfied and safe.

“Happy 20th Birthday to Notivators everywhere!”

If you’d like to celebrate with us by supporting our work with children in the UK and Africa, please click the Donate button.