“We say thank you for the music Geraldine”

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A much-loved music maestro who has helped children shine on stage for almost 40 years is retiring.

Geraldine Gaunt will retire as head of Wakefield Music Service, which has faced controversial re-organisation because of budget cuts, at the end of the month.

The 60-year-old, who has worked with thousands of children over the years, trained at Bretton Hall College and started her teaching career at Clifton Infant School in Horbury, before moving onto St John’s School, Wakefield.

She went on to become a music advisory teacher following a secondment, before taking up the role as deputy headteacher at Northfield Primary School and then joined Wakefield Music Service 20 years ago.

She said: “We have faced a lot of challenges along the way, but have managed to survive while other music services have failed. I really do think that is to do with my passion to make people realise the importance of music.”

Miss Gaunt, daughter of actor and ditty writer Bert Gaunt, who used to be a regular on ITV’s Calendar, said one of the biggest highlights of her career was taking more than 500 children to perform the musical Sun In Splendour, about the Battle of Wakefield, at the Royal Albert Hall,

At the same venue, more than 16,000 youngsters performed a song she co-wrote called Good to be Me as the finale to the Primary Proms.

Co-directing a musical called Sing to the Top, which has always proved a hit at Theatre Royal Wakefield, was among many of her hits.

Colleague and friend Phil Needham said: “Geraldine has a special gift for revealing and imparting the magic and power of music and making it accessible to everyone. She has supported and inspired so many young people and their teachers over the years, made a positive impact on their schools and communities and established the quality and importance of music across the district.

“Her ability to empower teachers with her infectious enthusiasm and passion for music is second to none and she will be greatly missed.”