Visitors to Wisbech’s annual Rose Fair on July 4 were treated to a live musical performance by pupils from Meadowgate Academy, a school for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The school orchestra was formed less than a year ago and is the only one of its kind in Cambridgeshire.

The ensemble was created through a partnership between Cambridgeshire Music and Open Orchestras, a national programme which works with music hubs across the country to help young people with disabilities to play and make music. Through it, they have access to specially-designed or adapted instruments if required, as well as musical repertoire that has been arranged so that anyone can join in, whatever their needs or level of ability.

Young people with disabilities are under-represented in music and often miss out on music-making opportunities at school, but by giving a fantastic, public performance at a festival that draws hundreds of people to Wisbech, the Meadowgate ensemble showed that this does not have to be the case. Being able to perform music can have a huge impact on young people with special needs, giving them a sense of belonging and identity. One student who plays in the orchestra summed it up neatly as: “the best feeling”. Councillor Sue Wallwork, who was in the audience, said: “I am thrilled just to be invited along and to feel so happy. The crowd is buzzing and I am so proud of Meadowgate Academy.”

Well done to all the performers who took part. More information about Open Orchestras is available here.