Who We Are


Ruth started her career in the health sector, in community health management and administration. She then moved into higher education where she worked as a university researcher for over 20  years managing and undertaking projects both within the UK and across Europe. Her areas of expertise include evaluation and impact, quality assurance, governance and strategic development.

Ruth is now a part-time freelance researcher and consultant, and a volunteer with Age UK West Sussex, Brighton & Hove (and was previously a governor at a Brighton primary school for seven years).

Ruth’s association with Music for Connection started in 2013 when she joined Silver Strings, now Music for Connection’s longest-running project. Never having played a musical instrument before or been able to read music, she now plays the cello and reads music!

Having joined the Advisory Group in 2014, she then became a director in 2017.

Ruth’s work with older (and younger) people, and her association with Music for Connection, has shown her the powerful impact that music-making and creativity can have on people’s lives.


I started my working life as a secondary school Rural and Agricultural Science teacher. I taught for a total of 12 years. I have also worked in Sales and Hotel Management. 

I started my own Catering business around 1984 and then set up a Coffee House in Brighton, in 1988, that I ran for nearly 9 years. On selling the business I moved to the South West of France for a years sabbatical and ended up staying for 11 years. While there I joined two local choirs and voluntarily taught English as a second language to both children in the local primary school and adults.

I returned to Brighton early in 2013 and have settled in by having various volunteering roles, e.g. Mentoring young vulnerable adults with the YMCA, training for the Red Cross and Guide Dogs for the Blind, and working in the One to One Literacy at The Bridge Community Learning Centre.

In 2014 I joined Silver Strings, the late learners string group and started to learn how to play the cello, my first musical instrument. In 2016 I became a volunteer on the BHMC Advisory Group where I am now the Chairperson.


Member of Silver Strings (late starters) music group.

Retired BHCC City Councillor and Health & Wellbeing Board member


Bela Emerson is a highly experienced CTLLS-qualified Goldsmiths University of London -trained community musician, cellist, and trainer. Bela is passionate about enabling the remarkable effects of participatory music on wellbeing, and active in the field of promoting creative engagement using music.

Bela founded BHMC’s forerunner Open Strings Music in 2014, after a 12-month learning programme with London School for Social Entrepreneurs’ Start Up 2013-14 (and Trade Up 2017-18). As a programme manager Bela leads in designing, facilitating, and evaluating several BHMC projects, including Brighton & Hove Older People’s Music (funded by Brighton & Hove City Council’s Third Sector Partnership 2020-2023): her first project, Silver Strings, is now in its ninth year, providing a lively and supportive atmosphere for older people of all abilities to play stringed instruments together. Her work with Silver Strings earned BHMC a Brighton & Hove City Council Covid19 Community Champion award.

Since 2018, Bela has delivered regular music for dementia training for Goldsmiths University of London, including an online programme. She is also a mentor and Action Learning Set facilitator.

Bela also works with Wishing Well Music For Health – bedside music for connection and wellbeing, with young patients at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, and in acute dementia settings and community hospitals throughout Sussex. As part of this role, she trains medical students in using music in healthcare settings at Royal Sussex County Hospital.

As a performer, Bela has played professionally worldwide, including residencies at Sydney Opera House / Royal Festival Hall, recording four John Peel sessions for BBC Radio 1, composing for acrobats Mimbre, soundtracking films for Tereza Buskova, and playing for Radio 4 with Tamsin Greig, Rory Bremner, Sarah Angliss and Stephen Hiscock. One of her most notable recent performances was playing Wonderwall with Liam Gallagher at Birmingham Arena.


Anna Dolphin is a Programme Managers on BHMC’s Ageing Well partnership contract, delivering 60+ dementia-friendly sessions per year, since 2016 (funded by NHS via Ageing Well partnership, led by Impact Initiatives).

Anna is a highly experienced community musician and musician in healthcare, who also leads on BHMC’s Musical Box Scheme (funded by Thomas Deane Trust and Brighton & Hove City Council), bringing bespoke regular music sessions to some of the city’s most isolated people during the pandemic and beyond. She also co-facilitates BHMC’s sessions for and with older people in seniors’ housing.


Bethan Prosser is a Programme Manager on BHMC’s Ageing Well partnership contract, delivering 60+ dementia-friendly sessions per year, since 2016 (funded by NHS via Ageing Well partnership, led by Impact Initiatives).

Bethan is a violinist and PhD researcher at University of Brighton using listening methods. She brings her expertise in listening practices, sound studies, community engagement and monitoring and evaluation to BHMC. She also co-facilitates BHMC’s listening and sound sessions, including commissions from British Library / The Keep’s Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (2019-2022), Stanmer Sounds, and Preston Park Recovery Centre sessions.

Advisory Group



I have lived in Brighton for the last 25 years and in my work career spent many years working in local government and more recently at the University of Brighton. I retired from my Research Fellow post at the University of Brighton in the summer of 2016 to spend more time with my elderly mum who has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home in Kent. My research area was age and aging and my last six years at the university were spent researching into and teaching on the lived experience of dementia. 

Whilst at the university I was introduced to Isabel and started my connection with Music For Connection and particularly the Sing Healthy Play Happy project for which I have been a volunteer since it started. I was invited to join the Advisory Group last year. I am a keen singer and play the piano but have really enjoyed the opportunity in the SHPH project to have a go at all sorts of percussion instruments!


Sarah has worked in television production for over 30 years, working freelance for the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV here in the UK and MTV, Disney and Fox in the USA.

She began in children’s TV and now shoots and edits mini documentaries as westcreative.org.  At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Sarah discovered an award-winning documentary called Alive Inside about the impact of music for people living with dementia. She worked with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust to bring the documentary to Brighton for free screenings across the county, helping families and carers, doctors and nurses talk about dementia and introducing music as a communication tool.

At one of the screenings at St George’s Church in Kemptown, she was introduced to Bela and has since enjoyed working with Open Strings/BHMC making several short videos and training films for them, hoping to bring their message to a wider audience. Sarah has also worked with the Centre for Dementia Studies at Sussex University, documenting their award winning Time for Dementia Programme, and also Sussex Community Foundation NHS Trust as filmmaker and research team member on a Feasibility Study into the Effectiveness of Music for People Living with Dementia. 


Yvette is an experienced Project Manager with skills in coaching and development, plus planning and control, governance and stakeholder management.

Yvette met Bela at the London School for Social Entrepreneurs, mentoring her Trade Up programme involvement 2017-18 as part of the sponsorship by Lloyds Bank. Their relationship continued and in 2019 she joined the AG group where Yvette, although not involved in any form of music, supports the team with her project experience.

Sessional Workers

We work with a range of highly-experienced community musicians, all of whom are DBS-checked and have public liability insurance cover. 


We work with a range of volunteers: from experienced musicians to health & social care professionals, carers, and others from all walks of life. We have various volunteer roles, both in sessions and behind the scenes – please visit our Volunteering page for more details.


We are currently commissioned by NHS Brighton & Hove CCG and funded by BHCC. We work in partnership with many other local and regional organisations – see Our Partners for further information.

Music for Connection is the trading name of Brighton and Hove Music for Connection CIC.