READERS of The Hunts Post are needed to help bring music to children of Uganda by backing a Huntingdon man s dream to set up potentially the first youth orchestra in east Africa. Philip Monk returned from Uganda determined to make a difference following a

Philip offers some tuition to one of the band’s recruits.
Pictures: SUPPLIED

READERS of The Hunts Post are needed to help bring music to children of Uganda by backing a Huntingdon man's dream to set up potentially the first youth orchestra in east Africa.

Philip Monk returned from Uganda determined to make a difference following a visit to the child he has been sponsoring for three years.

The 54-year-old formed his own charity and drew on his musical background to help set up a brass band in Mbale, Uganda's third largest town. Now, three years on, the band has 35 members and travels to villages up to 50 miles away to perform.

But Philip, of Woodlands, Huntingdon, is still not satisfied. He is now determined to expand the band into a full-scale youth orchestra.

"In this country we associate Africa with starvation and depravation, but in many of the main towns, the problem for young people is a lack of things to do," he said. "This lack of mental stimulation can often take children down the wrong path, and playing in a band gives them a new focus."

Members of the band are aged 11 to 18 and play with instruments bought and donated by the charity Philip established - Ugive2Uganda. The band members are instructed by a local music teacher, trained by a partner charity in Uganda.

Philip, who works for the Royal Mail's website, added: "Many more children are extremely keen to get involved and there is a long waiting list for youngsters anxious to join, but the capacity for them is not there at present because we do not have enough instruments.

"One of the best things about the band is that half of all fees received for their performances are distributed amongst the band members, and the rest goes to local charity."

In 2005, some members of the band were involved in a serious accident after using a taxi with faulty brakes to get to a concert.

Philip was so moved by the incident that he applied to every group he could think of to raise £10,000 to pay for a minibus, which is still used by the band today.

Philip lived in Ramsey Forty Foot for six years, and plays cornet with the Waterbeach brass band in Cambridge.

He is already half way to raising the £3,200 needed to pay for a large shipping container to transfer the extra instruments needed out to Uganda. He said: "The cost of a full set of 100 orchestral instruments is around £15,000, unless that can be offset by donations of spare instruments.

"I would appeal to people to help make a difference by offering any old instruments they no longer have use of or a cash donation. It really does change lives."

How to help:

The band already has a number of brass instruments, but the orchestra needs just about everything else, from percussion right through to woodwind and string instruments.

Donations of instruments, which are in good working order, can be made directly to Philip Monk by calling 07801930404. Alternatively, if you are passing through Huntingdon, feel free to drop off the instruments in The Hunts Post office in the High Street and we will pass them on.

Cash donations towards the project can also be made through calling Philip or by visiting his charity's website at www.ugive2uganda.org