Forest Row Singing Mama receives Points of Light award from PM

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A Forest Row woman’s own experience of postnatal depression and anxiety led her to grow an international movement of supportive singing groups for women with babies.

And now former nurse Kate Valentine has received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister, in recognition of her work over the past 14 years.

Kate Valentine, 44, said that when her children were younger, she found singing in a group brought her a huge sense of wellbeing and helped her to cope with all the changes of motherhood. It also helped her to make new connections and manage the stress of being a working single parent.

And so in 2010, whilst employed as an A&E nurse at Brighton & Sussex Hospital Trust, Kate set up non profit movement Singing Mamas, to support women through early motherhood with community and song.
Unlike many other singing groups, the focus of Singing Mamas is not on rehearsing for a final performance. Instead the Singing Mamas sing for the love of singing and the wellbeing benefits that it brings. There are no auditions and you do not need to be able to read music, have any experience, or even be a mother to join. The groups are open to all women.
Since its inception, Kate has trained more than 200 women across the globe to deliver the Singing Mamas approach in their own community. Groups now reach thousands of women and babies every week across eight countries and 50 local authorities, with the mission to have a group in every local authority in the UK.
Singing Mamas also runs leadership focused singing programmes, has developed the UK’s first digital singing on prescription service, and has partnered with Liverpool Women’s Hospital to develop a singing at home for maternal wellbeing programme.
A recent outreach program in Kent targeted perinatal and postnatal women in maternity hospitals and mother and baby units around the county. And Kate is currently working on a creative health pilot project with nursing students at Chester University.
Kate, whose own children are now 24,18, 17 and six, said: “The first ever Singing Mamas group was my own recovery space. It was partly about the community that developed as the group grew, but it was mainly the practicing of songs every week that improved my mood.

“It means so much to have the work of Singing Mamas recognised in this way. So often it feels like you’re invisible as a mum so raising the profile of this fantastic movement and all of the women who make it happen and having people in power saying ‘yes,  your wellbeing matters!’ is such a boost.”

For Kate, who cites Aretha Franklin as her vocal hero, her experience of singing was not always such a positive one.
‘Voice shamed’ at the age of 11 by a teacher at her Dorset primary school, Kate was told to ‘go back to the classroom’ when she auditioned for the school choir.
Kate explains how that impacted her, saying: “Looking back, that moment stole my voice away for many years. That failed audition stopped me from truly enjoying singing, although I kept on trying.
“It wasn’t until years later when I developed the Singing Mamas approach, that I was able to sing freely and joyfully again, with no fear of judgement.”
Kate is the 2,287th recipient of the Points of Light award, which was first launched in April 2014 to recognise outstanding individuals making a positive change within their community and inspiring others. Each weekday, someone is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
Kate Valentine, registered nurse and founder of Singing Mamas.jpg
Kate runs Singing Mamas groups in Forest Row on Wednesdays from 09.15-10.45 am and 11am-12.30pm. There are also groups in East Hoathly, Woodingdean, Patcham, Brighton, Lewes, Hove and Newhaven. For more information visit singingmamas.org
There are two free Singing Mamas resources available to everyone: At Home With Singing Mamas and Singing Mamas Volume 1

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