A WOKINGHAM pilot said he was “shocked” to have been awarded an MBE for services to disadvantaged children.
Jim Trott, director of Brass for Africa founded the charity in 2009 to support communities in Uganda, Rwanda and Liberia.
The organisation, which has 45 staff, supports more than 1,000 young people with music lessons twice a week as well as social awareness issues such as equality, disability inclusion and community engagement.
Included in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours, Wokingham-born Mr Trott hopes to collect the MBE later in the year.
“It was such a surprise opening the email at the beginning of December,” he said. “Of course, you have to sit on it throughout Christmas and not tell anyone.”
The charity first began when his two children were studying with Berkshire Maestros.
An amateur trumpeter himself, Mr Trott organised a donation of 30 tarnished, brass instruments to Kampala, the Ugandan capital.
Used as part of its rental services, Maestros had planned to throw the instruments away.
“It grew organically from there,” Mr Trott said. “The instruments seemed to have a very profound impact on these young people’s lives.”
With music as its key message, the charity works to promote life skills as part of the teaching programme.
“Learning an instrument takes grit, perseverance, teamwork and leadership,” he said. “We use these skills, and build exercises and games into the lessons.
“Then it’s about showing how these are transferable.”
With roughly 55% of Ugandans under 18, Mr Trott believes it is important for young people to move their education forwards and get ready for the workplace.
The charity also promotes gender equality and disability inclusion. It is supported by the US Embassy with its HIV and Aids programme, that creates youth health ambassadors.
“It’s really exciting to see how we can bring about change,” Mr Trott added. “This wasn’t something I set out to do — it grew.”
Throughout the pandemic, the charity has supported 500 households in Uganda with food and sanitation.
Mr Trott said this was due to the trust and support that students place in their music teachers.
“You build that relationship with your conductor or teacher, they’re someone with you through many years of your life. It was through this, we discovered a number of people in need in the pandemic.”
Mr Trott grew up in Wokingham and attended Keephatch Primary School.
He now lives with his family in the town.