Mr. Ellis Coxon graduated in Chemistry from the University of Durham in 1983 and became a qualified secondary school teacher in 1984. His first teaching assignment involved instructing Chemistry to 300 students aged 11 to 16, some of who were classes of students with special needs.

The UK education system at that time had no special education policies in place and teaching a theoretical subject to students who struggled with basic literacy skills proved challenging.  He describes how their lack of engagement led to them “taking great delight in misusing the acid , glass and fire involved in any practical work”.  The difficulties he encountered in this stressful and under resourced classroom environment took a toll on Mr. Coxon’s mental health, resulting in him eventually leaving the teaching profession altogether.

While employed in the Civil Service during the early 1990s, Mr. Coxon happened upon a special needs school nearby. He subsequently spent the following two years volunteering during his extended lunch breaks, working with young adults facing severe and profound learning difficulties.  This experience reignited his desire to return to teaching and he completed a Master’s degree in Special Education.

Although obtaining his Master’s degree was a significant accomplishment, once back classroom teaching full time, Mr. Coxon found the bureaucratic focus on why the students didn’t conform to an existing curriculum overshadowed the ability to treat each student as an individual with unique needs.

Ultimately, Mr. Coxon found fulfillment as Chemistry tutor, providing personalised instruction to students on a one-on-one basis in their homes.  He retired from full time work in 2016 to care for his elderly mother until her passing in 2021.

As a long-time admirer of the beautiful singing voice of Hayley Westenra, Mr. Coxon discovered that she was a patron of the Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust in Auckland, NZ.  Learning more about the work of the Trust and the shortage of music therapy teachers, he knew he wanted to help.  These discussions led to Mr Coxon sponsoring a second Master of Music Therapy award in partnership with The Kate Edger Trust and The Raukatari Music Therapy Trust.

It is very fitting that the recipient of his award Sarah Byrne, has a teaching background and has come to Music Therapy through her recognition of the power of music in the classroom environment to support children with emotional and behavioral issues.

Both the Kate Edger Trust and Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust are very grateful to Mr Coxon for his generous donation towards Sarah’s music therapy career and the people she will ultimately help.