Anglia Ruskin Universtiy receives royal honour at St James’s Palace

Queen’s Anniversary Prize recognises world-leading music therapy research

Last month Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) received The Queen’s Anniversary Prize during a ceremony at St James’s Palace in London.

The Prize was presented to ARU by His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, and it was awarded in recognition of ARU’s world-leading music therapy work.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are the highest national honour awarded in UK higher and further education, and are granted by The Queen every two years.

Senior figures from ARU attended the ceremony at St James’s Palace, including Vice Chancellor Professor Roderick Watkins, Deputy Chair of ARU’s Board of Governors Dr Margaret Wilson CBE, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Professor Yvonne Barnett, Professor of Music Therapy Helen Odell-Miller OBE, and Professor of Music, Health and the Brain Jorg Fachner.

ARU was the first university in the UK to offer MA level music therapy training and is home to the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research, which has a team of 30 researchers, including PhD students, and is the largest and most influential music therapy research institute in the world.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes recognise work by UK universities and colleges that display the highest levels of quality in research and innovation, and deliver significant public benefit.  ARU received the award specifically for its music therapy research to help people living with dementia, and their families.

ARU’s ground-breaking work has contributed to the Music for Dementia Commission in the House of Lords in 2018, and to changes in the NICE guidelines for dementia in 2019, recommending music therapy for people with dementia for the first time. 

ARU is the UK lead of one of the largest non-pharmacological trials ever carried out in music therapy. Called HOMESIDE, the international study involves 1,000 participants, and is testing new approaches for carers and their loved ones living with dementia at home. Music therapists from ARU also work with the Saffron Hall Trust to provide music therapy for people with dementia and their carers. 

Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, the Director of ARU’s Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research, said: “Winning is an acknowledgement of the whole ARU community, and the work that music therapy researchers, lecturers, professional services and all our colleagues undertake – and of our students’ achievements as well. Many of our graduates are employed in leading roles now around the world.”

On the specific focus of ARU’s role in dementia research, Professor Odell-Miller added: “I hope The Queen’s Anniversary Prize will help to enable access to all for music therapy, and for further research to take place to secure services for participants who need it.”

Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor of ARU, said: “It was a tremendous privilege to receive The Queen’s Anniversary Prize on behalf of ARU. This award is a wonderful recognition of the hard work, dedication and excellence displayed by Professor Helen Odell-Miller and her team at the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research. Together they have done so much to improve the lives of people living with dementia, and their families and carers.”

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