Charity chief says OBE honours group effort to help children through music

A charity chief made an OBE in the New Year Honours list has said she hopes it can inspire her daughter to “do something that matters” when she is older.

Nicola Killean, 40, helped establish Sistema Scotland, which runs the Big Noise orchestra programmes which aim to transform the lives of disadvantaged children through music.

Speaking about her honour, she told the PA news agency: “It’s the first time I’ve received anything like this. I was surprised and shocked but also proud for the organisation.

“It’s a really nice thing to be recognised for the work we’ve done. I really see it as an honour for the organisation and everyone I’ve worked with over the years.

“When I saw the letter I was really proud that the award is for services to music, children and community cohesion, as that is what I am really passionate about.”

Honours recipients are notified in advance of their award but instructed to keep it strictly to themselves, and Ms Killean said she managed to maintain the secret.

“I’ve got a wee bottle of champagne in the fridge for later,” she said. “I was waiting for it to be official before telling everyone. I’ll be doing that tomorrow.”

Ms Killean has a three-year-old daughter and she said she feels “really proud as a mother” that she can be a role model.

Big Noise sign
The Big Noise project aims to help children from disadvantaged areas through music (PA)

“As she grows up I think I’ll be really proud as she understands that you can have a job that is really about doing something that matters. It’s a really nice thing to be able to talk about as she gets older,” she said.

Ms Killean began working at Sistema Scotland in 2007 and she said it has grown in that time from working with 35 children to 2,500 weekly.

She added: “We are so proud of what the organisation does, and the impact it has had on children and communities.

“But there is still a lot of work that we still need to do and this type of recognition can help with that.”

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