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;
• 648 members of care/staff teams from all over the UK have attended two-day training courses;
• We have funded or part-funded over 10,000 music therapy sessions with children in the community;
• We have worked in about 260 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 2021 our fundraising efforts drew in £252,198. In such an extraordinary year we did not request any contribution for our charitable activities.

• Voluntary income – grants, donations, Gift Aid tax refunds, legacies etc raised 92% of our income.
• Fundraising activities raised 6% of our income
• Investing our funds wisely raised 2%
• We requested no income from charitable activities.

Children playing percussion

And how we spent it

We spent £252,023.
• 92% was spent on our charitable activities – helping children through music
• Fundraising took 8% 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, and was for 6 years a board member of the Community Fund (now part of the Big Lottery Fund). He is currently a trustee of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, and the Rowntree Society.

Hannah George

Hannah George, Co-Vice Chair of Trustees

Hannah is Consultant Clinical Psychologist in 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 at music college and subsequently worked for charities as a fundraiser and fundraising strategist for over 20 years. She is now a psychotherapist. She was privileged to be asked to become a trustee of Jessie’s Fund and hopes to be active in many ways, in particular using her expertise to support Jessie’s Fund in securing the financial support needed to implement its plans for the future.
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.
John Phillips

His Honour John Phillips CBE, Trustee

John Phillips was a founder member of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet. He later left the quartet to pursue a career in law, supporting his legal studies by freelance playing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the London Mozart Players. Having practised as a barrister for many years he was appointed as a circuit judge in 1998. In 2006 he was awarded a CBE for services to the criminal justice system. He left the law in 2016 and is currently a director of the Hallé Orchestra.
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.
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.’
Lesley Schatzberger

Lesley Schatzberger, Director

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.
Britta Koerber

Britta Koerber, Director of Learning

Britta is a project manager and producer who has spent over a decade working with musicians on educational projects. She previously held the post of Schools and Early Years Manager at the renowned Sage Gateshead, working with children, teachers and parents to bring music into classrooms and homes, and she is delighted to bring her skills and experience to help further the marvellous work of Jessie’s Fund.
Karen Kadow

Karen Kadow, Administrator

Karen has supported Lesley in the office as the charity’s part-time Administrator since 2001. During that time, she has also qualified as a French-English translator, and worked privately as an English tutor. As a music-lover and mother of two children, she is keenly aware of the importance of the services Jessie’s Fund provides and is delighted to be able to contribute to its success.
Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams, Projects Assistant

Lisa previously held the post of Corporate Development Manager for the London Symphony Orchestra. Prior to that she had been Projects Co-ordinator for the Natal Philharmonic, and whilst in South Africa had also worked for Buskaid, which gives impoverished township children the opportunity to play classical music to a high standard. A pianist herself, she very much understands the power of music.