Jo Higson

PMZ Trustee

Co-op Member Pioneer Coordinator for Plymouth; Volunteer Coordinator AgeUK Plymouth Gateway to Services Project; Student MA Creative Writing University of Plymouth.



What do you do for PMZ?

I have just joined the Board of Trustees. I have long been a supporter PMZ, having brought a group of talented people being supported by Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support, back in 2011. I saw the transformational effect of PMZ then and will be ever grateful for Teri, the music leader for the group who insisted I didn’t sit on the sidelines and gave me the confidence to sing.

Do you play any instruments?

Yes. I started learning the violin at age 8, having been inspired by the Halle Proms. My mother would treat me to a train ride in to Manchester and the Free Trade Hall a couple of times during each season. I loved it but stopped playing really when I went to University at 18. I kept hold of my violin and rediscovered it when I moved house in 2017. I was awful so started having lessons again.

I sang alto in my school choir (Stoke Damerel HIgh School for Girls for those who are old enough to remember) and felt pure joy at the harmonies produced, especially at the annual carol service. We were once recorded for BBC Radio and transmitted on Christmas Day. More recently I have been part of a couple of choirs including the Barbican Community Choir and Voices at TRP.

I have just bought a mandolin as it has the same tuning as a violin, but I thought it might be a little more accessible and transportable. I bought a teach-yourself book but really I need lessons!

What musical instrument would best describe you as a person?

Mmmm. A good question. I asked this of some of my Co-op colleagues and they suggested a gamelan because it has a beautiful tone, has international influences and is a bit unusual. I thought that was very nice of them to suggest – so yes, I’ll take that.

What has music done for you in your life?

I couldn’t imagine living without it. I love listening, participating and seeing the joy it brings to others. I really enjoy live music, especially in small intimate venues – I think there is something about feeling the music reverberate within your body that is really healing. Having said that, Snow Patrol at Plymouth Pavilions earlier this year was awesome!

What’s the best bit about working at PMZ?

The people – and the values that everyone upholds in all the work that goes on here. I am passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion – it has been my life for many years now – and seeing it play(!) out here is wonderful.

What’s the first record/CD you ever bought?

Eek. It was a 45rpm vinyl. The Wombles and The Wombling Song. Least said about that, the better.