About us

Children with drumOur mission and aims

Jessie’s Fund was established as a registered charity in 1995 and helps children with serious illness, complex needs, and communication difficulties through the therapeutic use of music. Music can provide a powerful and profound way in which children can express themselves and connect with the world around them. Our work covers all areas of the UK. We aim to:

• enable children in every children’s hospice in the UK to access music therapy by establishing posts for music therapists, providing appropriate musical instruments, and offering musical training to staff;
• help children in special schools and hospitals to participate in creative musical activities;
• train staff in special schools to use music as a tool for communication and learning.

Jessie, aged 8, with violinOur story

Jessica May George was lively, bright and musical, and just nine years old when she was suddenly diagnosed with a rare and inoperable brain tumour. Jessie’s Fund was established to meet the cost of treatment planned for her in the USA and was named by Jessie herself, but she died in May 1994, just five months after her diagnosis and before managing to travel to the States.


Jessie’s parents, musicians Lesley Schatzberger and Alan George, decided that Jessie’s Fund should become a charity dedicated to helping seriously ill and disabled children through music: it was registered as such in 1995. Based in York, Jessie’s Fund helps children all over the UK.

Boy in wheelchairWhat we’ve achieved

When Jessie’s Fund started in 1995…

• There were 8 children’s hospices in the UK, none of which had experienced music therapy;
• There were no courses in using music for communication specifically with life-limited children;
• There was no charity dedicated to children with complex needs through the creative and therapeutic use of music.



• There are some 54 hospice services for children and we have provided musical instruments for almost all;
• We have helped 44 to establish posts for music therapists;
• 734 members of care/staff teams from all over the UK have attended two-day training courses;
• We have funded or part-funded over 10,500 music therapy sessions with children in the community;
• We have worked in about 285 school settings for children with special needs through our nationwide interactive music programme;
• We are supporting music therapy for children in several hospitals;
• ‘Music Therapy in Children’s Hospices – Jessie’s Fund in Action’ was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2005, followed by ‘Music Therapy in Children and Young People’s Palliative Care in 2019;
• Awards received include the Guardian Jerwood Award for Community Achievement, DSC Social Change Great Grant Giving Funders Award, a TalkTalk Digital Heroes Award, and the Yorkshire Children of Courage Award.

The numbers story

Where our money comes from

In our financial year ending 31 March 2023 our fundraising efforts drew in £252,959.

• Voluntary income – grants, donations, Gift Aid tax refunds, legacies etc raised 84% of our income.
• Fundraising activities raised 6% of our income
• Investing our funds wisely raised 2%
• Income from charitable activities represented 8%.

Children playing percussion

And how we spent it

We spent £310,704.
• 93% was spent on our charitable activities – helping children through music
• Fundraising took 7% of costs


You can see our most recent Annual Report and Accounts by clicking here.

Annual Report cover image

Who’s who in Jessie’s Fund


Steven Burkeman, Chair of Trustees

Steven has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector, having worked as a chief executive, a board member, and a volunteer. He ran the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for nearly 20 years. He was also a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, and the Rowntree Society (which he founded in 2001), and a board member of the National Lottery Community Fund. He has also served on the boards of various other non-profit organisations.

Hannah George

Hannah George, Co-Vice Chair of Trustees

Hannah is Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead for Deaf CAMHS North. This is a specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health service, working with deaf children, young people and families across the North of England. As the sister of Jessie, the fund is something very close to her heart. She has been involved since the outset, when she was just 12 (designing the first version of our logo!). She has been a proud trustee since 2004.

Nancy Maguire, Co-Vice Chair of Trustees

Nancy studied music after leaving school and then went on to develop a career in fundraising for over 20 years. In the last decade, she went back to university and gained a post-graduate qualification in psychotherapy. Her specialist interest is in trauma and long term transformational change with individuals. She now works for a clinic in Brighton and has a private practice working from home. Having personal experience of disability in her family, her experience and knowledge of psychological well being and the role music can play in peoples’ lives, either disabled or not, drives her involvement in Jessie’s Fund. Being an active co-Vice Chair of Jessie’s Fund is a privilege and an honour.
Alan George

Alan George, Trustee

Alan, father of Jessie, is the viola player in the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, which originally became well known for its relationship with Shostakovich, whose last three quartets they premiered in the UK. He has held teaching posts at the University of York and the Royal Northern College of Music, as well as a residency at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by both Bucknell University (USA) and the University of York.
Andy Grace

Andy Grace, Trustee

Andy has worked in York as an Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon with a particular interest in voice since 1988. He was Clinical Director for Head and Neck Services for nine years; Regional Advisor for ENT Surgery to the Royal College of Surgeons, and President of York Medical Society in 2011 – 2012. He is passionate about the arts and their transformative effect in all aspects of life, and is keen to use his knowledge of the health sector to support Jessie’s Fund in its outstanding work with young people.
Liz Varlow

Liz Varlow, Trustee

Liz has been sub principal viola in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for many years. Tours take her all over the UK and the world, where she is privileged to play with some of the world’s greatest soloists and conductors, but she also loves the opportunity to work with orchestral education and outreach programmes. Liz herself is deafened, and she has had much personal experience of disability through her brother, who has learning difficulties, so the fantastic work of Jessie’s Fund is very close to her heart.
 Charlotte Lincoln

Charlotte Lincoln, Trustee

Charlotte has a background in music, having studied the cello at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance before completing an MA in Community Music. During this time, she became increasingly aware of the transformative power of music, facilitating early years music classes and taking music into schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons. She now works for Awards for Young Musicians who provide funding and opportunities for musicians from low income backgrounds. She is passionate about ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to access and engage with music and is proud to support the vital work of Jessie’s Fund.

 Jessica Villiers d

Jessica Villiers, Trustee

Jessica is a Grants Officer at the Jack Petchey Foundation, a grant-giving organisation working closely with schools and grassroots charities to support young people across London and Essex. Prior to this, she worked to increase the number of inclusive musical opportunities across East London at the charity Newham Music. Jessica studied Music at Goldsmiths University of London where she also worked as a classroom assistant supporting music lessons, and is currently a member of the London Symphony Chorus. Jessica is excited to bring her experience and passions for equal access to music opportunities to Jessie’s Fund along with her experience in fundraising, grant giving and business development.
 Jack Zaborski

Jack Zaborski, Trustee

Jack is an experienced business consultant having worked as a Director at a big 4 accounting and advisory firm where he focused on advising FTSE100 clients on strategy and performance improvement. He is currently working as a Client Partner at Microsoft where he works with large corporate customers advising them on digital strategy and transformation. He is honoured to have joined the board of Trustees at Jessie’s Fund and will focus on helping grow the digital footprint and corporate partnerships.

 Julia Rochester

Julia Rochester, Trustee

Julia has worked for BBC World Service radio, and for Amnesty International on its Brazil Research Programme. She has also run her own small independent non-fiction book publishing company. In recent years she has focused on being a writer and novelist. Having a lifelong interest in communication, she is inspired by the work of Jessie’s Fund in supporting children to express themselves through music.
Lesley Schatzberger

Lesley Schatzberger, Founder

Lesley’s experience when her daughter Jessie was in a children’s hospice made her aware of how many children struggle to communicate: it was clear to her how music could help these children. As a clarinettist Lesley has worked in a range of music-making – from working with Stockhausen to touring extensively with orchestras such as the English Baroque Soloists and the Academy of Ancient Music. She teaches at the University of York: in 2006 that institution awarded her an honorary doctorate, and in 2021 she was awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Northern College of Music.
Sally Brabyn

Sally Brabyn, Honorary Treasurer

Sally says ‘Jessie and my daughter were friends at school, so I’ve been aware of Jessie’s Fund since its inception. A few years ago I had the opportunity to take their training course. Meeting the teachers and music therapists on the course, and hearing about the sorts of work they do and the children they work with was a privilege, so I am really pleased to make some contribution to the wonderful work of this charity. In my day job I work in mental health research at the University of York.’
Rebecca Ellis

Rebecca Ellis, Executive Director

Rebecca has worked in music and specialist education in Yorkshire, and within a Local Authority Special Educational Needs (SEN) team in Liverpool. Her previous role was as a senior leader for SEN in a mainstream setting. She has seen first-hand how interactive musical opportunities and music therapy can improve children’s communication skills and wellbeing in a range of settings. She is passionate about the work of Jessie’s Fund and ensuring as many children, families and settings as possible can benefit from their vital support.
Karen Kadow

Karen Kadow, Administrator

Karen has years of experience in the charity sector and has been a key member of the Jessie’s Fund team for over 20 years. Her role as Administrator underpins every aspect of the organisation. Music making has always been a fundamental part of Karen’s life, and she currently devotes a great deal of her spare time to singing in two thriving York choirs. Her love of music and the joy it brings her means she passionately believes in the work of Jessie’s Fund and the power of music to support children with complex needs.

Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams, Projects Assistant

Lisa started her career in London, working for the Royal Academy of Music and then Lies Askonas, before relocating to South Africa for six years. Whilst in Johannesburg, she helped manage Buskaid, a music charity offering high-quality string tuition to underprivileged children and young people in the township of Soweto. On her return to London, she joined the London Symphony Orchestra as their Corporate Development Manager, collaborating with both UK and international companies. Working for Jessie’s Fund has enabled her to bring all these different experiences together to support the charity’s programme in specialist school settings.