Youngsters compose global musical bond

PUBLISHED: 17:29 11 January 2012

Former Norfolk teacher, Jim Kerr , lives on Tristan da Cunha, one of the most remote islands in the world. Pictured: The Island of Tristan da Cunha

Former Norfolk teacher, Jim Kerr , lives on Tristan da Cunha, one of the most remote islands in the world. Pictured: The Island of Tristan da Cunha

Jim Kerr

The wilds of north Norfolk and the tropical heat of the South Atlantic may be polar opposites but a musical bond between two groups of children is bringing them together.

Through the efforts of a piano teacher from Trunch a group of Norfolk youngsters are forging links with the children of Tristan da Cunha – the world’s most remote island.

Tony Triggs established the unique partnership in which pupils from Tristan write poems and email them to him.

He then works with his younger students to turn the prose into songs, which are sent back to the remote atoll for the island children to perform.

Their creations have become a hit on Tristan da Cunha – which lies more than 1,700 miles from its closest mainland – but the songs have received a much wider audience, as the pupils will sing them to passengers from visiting cruise ships.

Mr Triggs, 65, said: “It’s brought so much to both sets of children.

“My students look forward to receiving the poems and a few pen friendships have started.

“In all my life I think this is the thing that’s gone better than my dreams.”

The project started in 2010 when Mr Triggs got in touch with fellow teacher Jim Kerr, who was relocating to Tristan da Cunha to work as the island’s education advisor.

Mr Triggs suggested the partnership and within a few months of Mr Kerr arriving in Tristan da Cunha he had sent over the first batch of poems.

Since then the scheme has flourished with sales of a book of the collected songs raising money to send five guitars to the island’s 28 school-age children, and it is now gaining recognition in the UK.

Educational magazine Aquila is keen to launch a similar writing and composing project and the BBC wants to feature the songs in a documentary about Tristan da Cunha’s active volcano.

Mr Triggs said: “What really pleases me most is to see happy faces here in Norfolk hearing their songs being sung. It’s their pleasure in the island children that matters most.”

To hear some of the island songs search for this story on our website at

On song: Above, Bethany Whitaker and Bethany Parker perform the songs for Tristan da Cunham with Tony Triggs, also pictured left.


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