Heathfield opera star’s love of music lives on

Robert Poulton
Robert Poulton

The widow of an international opera star is proving that out of tragedy can come hope.

Philippa Poulton, 53, of Elm Way, Heathfield, is the widow of Robert Poulton, who was tragically killed in a road crash in Cross-in-Hand two and a half years ago when he was returning from rehearsals at Glyndebourne.

Now she is working hard to fulfil her late husband’s wish to spread the glory of music to people who would not otherwise experience it.

A mother of two, she has set up the Robert Poulton Foundation which is currently inspiring two local musical projects.

The first is a community choir which now has almost 40 members. The second aims to re-introduce music into schools where it has often been excluded from a crowded curriculum.

The choir meets at All Saints Church Hall, Grange Road, Eastbourne, on Monday evenings and Philippa would like to involve even more would-be singers. She said: “You don’t have to be musical or even have sung before. Singing is such a beneficially therapeutic activity - it releases ‘feel good’ endorphins and heals both physically and mentally. I’d like to encourage people to come along who have, for example, suffered a stroke, suffer from a life-limiting illness or care for a family member - anyone who could do with a good sing.”

This September the Foundation will also start to work with Herne Junior School in Crowborough where local composer Martin Neill is divising a musical programme called ‘Singit’. It’s hoped that eventually each primary school class will get at least 30 minutes of specialist musical tuition each week and the Foundation is presently looking at more schools. Any school that is interested should contact her directly.

Philippa’s friend Gillian Hodge said: “I am so proud of Philippa and her family for creating something good out of such a tragedy. She is a lovely lady. I think more than anything I want to shout out to everyone how strong she has been and how proud Rob would be of her. They were truly soulmates. The choir in particular focuses on people like Philippa who have had a bereavement or might be caring for someone with a chronic illness or simply be lonely.”

The Robert Poulton Foundation is a charity and a vigorous fundraising campaign is helping to continue Robert’s work in bringing music to as wide an audience as possible.

Anyone who would like to become involved in any way or support the charity should contact Philippa directly on: 07525 188637 or via email at: philippapoulton@hotmail.co.uk