On Wednesday 21 March, music superstar Sting officially opened our brand new music therapy centre in the North East – the first of its kind outside of London.

The centre, at the former matron’s lodge at Newcastle’s Fleming Hospital, has been funded by the Graham Wylie Foundation and will be run by our North East team of Nordoff Robbins music therapists, to primarily support children and young people from across the region.

Sting, whose play The Last Ship started a nationwide tour at Newcastle’s Northern Stage, attended a celebratory gala evening at the theatre on Tuesday 20 March, before joining us at the opening ceremony of the Nordoff Robbins music therapy centre the following morning.

At the opening Sting said “I am the perfect example of the effectiveness of music therapy, I say this because without music I am not sure of what my life would be like.”

The Wallsend-born star was joined at the ceremony by Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson, who earlier this year broke ground on the new centre as building work began. The centre features a room named after the band, who have been at the forefront of fundraising for the Graham Wylie Foundation, and indeed Nordoff Robbins.

Ricky said “Music is very powerful, we see that every day, not a day goes past where you are not affected by music or it doesn’t have some impact on your life. We are very pleased to be part of it – we were here right at the beginning, and now we are here at another beginning – the opening of this place, which is just fantastic.”

Attending guests were also treated to a choir performance courtesy of children from the nearby Hadrian School, a special education needs school which Nordoff Robbins work in partnership with to deliver music therapy as part of their programme.

Alongside donating the building, The Graham Wylie Foundation was a principal fundraiser for the centre through its Rock’n’Raise campaign, which was backed by a host of stars, including Sting and Kaiser Chiefs.

Foundation founder Graham Wylie said “We are incredibly grateful to Sting for taking the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to declare the Nordoff Music Therapy Centre open. It will be a huge asset to the region and we are proud to have played our part in bringing it to fruition.”

Our Nordoff Robbins CEO Julie Whelan said“We were thrilled to have had the honour of Sting with us to officially open our Newcastle centre. This new facility will enable us to reach more isolated and vulnerable people in Newcastle and the North East, helping to change their lives through music. We thank the Graham Wylie Foundation for making it possible, Sting for so generously giving up his time and the Kaiser Chiefs for their incredible support!”

The centre will start delivering music therapy in April 2018, welcoming people from across the region who will be able to access the service free-of-charge, to help improve their wellbeing through skilled use of music.