Meet the Team

Eddie ArmerEddie Armer

Skiffle Express and The Lonnigans

Having been involved with Skiffle For Change from its inception, I have found the experience extremely rewarding and the sense of fun and achievement generated by the project continues to grow.

Why skiffle music?

Skiffle was a musical phenomenon which erupted in Britain during the mid 1950s and the undisputed king was the late Lonnie Donegan. Such was the impact of his hit record ‘Rock Island Line’, that skiffle groups mushroomed up across the land.

The charm of skiffle is its humour and simplicity, coupled with the exploitation of household implements to create music. When skiffle first erupted in the ‘50s, Great Britain was experiencing a period of great austerity, musical instruments were in short supply and very expensive. Undeterred, young skifflers would adapt old tea chests by adding a broom handle and length of washing line. By plucking the string you could produce the sound of a double bass. Mother’s old washboard, scrapped with a sewing thimble on each finger, provided the driving rhythm and defining sound of a skiffle group…who needed a drum kit! Add to the mix a cheap guitar, three basic chords, youthful enthusiasm and hey-presto you have a skiffle group.

Skiffle is a perfect vehicle for our anti-stigma project. It is all inclusive and you do not need any musical skills to take part, as long as you can tap or sing along, you can join in the fun.

There is no doubt that ‘well-being through music’ is generated during our skiffle sessions and for a few short hours our personal problems vanish and our spirits lifted. Long live skiffle.

Chris Morgan

Skiffle Express

“I have been involved with Sevenoaks Area Mind for about 12 years now, but it was only in January this year that I first attended aChris Morgan skiffle music session on a Friday afternoon, after being unwell with depression for most of last year.  I was made to feel very welcome, and enjoyed it.  It gave me a chance to play around and try some very rusty playing on my clarinet, without any criticism, just encouragement.  It also gave me the opportunity to sing, and also to socialise a bit, but with no pressure.

I soon found out about the Skiffle for Change project, and met Lucy.  I offered to help with training the Skiffle Ambassadors, as I had experience helping people to give ‘Personal Perspectives’ on mental health issues in our local training workshops.  I have also given short talks on mental health awareness at our Events so far, and have even helped as a ‘roadie’, transporting some of the musical equipment we need at each event.

I am really glad to be involved with such a positive project.  I certainly agree with the aims of Skiffle to Change, to encourage more people to talk openly about mental health issues.  But, just as important, I am enjoying learning about skiffle, from Eddie, from the other professionals involved, and from other Skiffle Express band members.  And I enjoy participating in the music making as well.  It’s fun!  I get to blow my steam train whistle!  I would encourage anyone to get involved with this project, or others like it.  Music and participation are good for your mental health!”

Daniel Huckfield

Skiffle Express

I came to the band following a mental health crisis in June 2013.

I have always loved music and had played in a band many years ago; as soon as I saw that there was a music group at Sevenoaks Area Mind I wanted to get involved.Dan

For me just having the opportunity to make music with other people helps me to feel better and during our sessions and gigs I am able to leave behind the thoughts and feelings that trouble me.

Once the Skiffle for Change project started I was keen to get involved in helping to promote our events.

I have in the past worked in IT and have website design and social media skills which I was able to put to good use.

I have now officially volunteered and for me it is a first step back to being able to work.

The project has been fantastic and seeing people enjoy our music and feel able to talk about mental health is a real buzz.

Natasha Crist

Skiffle Express

I’ve had Mental Health issues for most of my life, not much fun when you regularly burst out crying in front of the other school kidstash2 or at home for no known reason.

My parents were worried about things I did through the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and had me referred to a psych. A few days after seeing him I tried to kill myself with the drugs he prescribed, I was found by my Father who was an ambulance driver – and was in a deep sleep in hospital for three days.

I received no help after that, so tried to sort myself out by burying myself in my job with an Insurance broker in London, took up many hobbies and interests which included flying, Gliding, long distance walking and photography. I also concentrated on my love of music.

Because of a number of family crises in 2000, I was sectioned early in 2001 because a neighbour caught me trying to do something, I’d had enough. I was discharged in 2002 and became a service user/member of Sevenoaks area Mind. About six years ago I became a volunteer.

When the music group first started up, I was very pleased. Music is a powerful medium, and I love it. Listening to CDs as we did then, to playing our own instruments and our own songs as we do now is brilliant. Being chosen to represent the Time to Change anti-stigma campaign is the icing on the cake.

The first public event was a bit nerve racking, was followed by the magical high that playing music gives, now I feel excited before an event followed by the same ‘buzz’ afterwards. The smiling faces and dancing I see every time we perform is so rewarding.

Being so heavily involved with The Skiffle Express, and The Skiffle for Change campaign gives me a lot to look forward to – unfortunately my mood swings still get in the way from time to time.