A BRIDPORT woman has been awarded a Churchill Travelling Fellowship to go to Bosnia and India and study how and why music helps disadvantaged children.

Tina Ellen Lee, the artistic director of Opera Circus, said she was thrilled to have the award.

She has been working with world expert Nigel Osborne on using music to help special needs children.

She said although she had been helping Mr Osborne since 2004 she wanted to understand better how the use of music helps the emotional and physical development for children who suffer from disability, disadvantage and trauma.

Tina said: “I applied to do some research in Bosnia and India which is where we work, just to be able to explain it in layman’s terms. Over a period of a year I will be going to both countries twice.

“Then I may be able to expand it here and connect people because there are a lot of people doing projects all over the world but separately.

“It may be a way of encouraging more people, including funders, to fund music in all its aspects and particularly in this field.”

She has been raising funds and organising the work in both countries but felt it was time to get more involved.

“I can do all the organising but you get to the end of it and think ‘what did I actually learn from all this’? As a musician myself I decided I would like to learn a little bit more about it and possibly practice at a low level or more importantly explain it to other people.

“From the earliest age it is important for children to have access to music, both listening and playing it does help expand the brain, particularly in fields like science and maths it is absolutely vital.

“Both government and schools, partly because of funding, are both still resistant to make it part of everyday life for everybody, which it should be.”

Only five fellowships have been awarded in the south and the recipients will visit nine countries between them.

The trust pays an average of £6,400 per fellow.

Tina said: “I don’t think too many people know about the fellowship and I would encourage people to apply.”

The Trust was established shortly after Sir Winston’s death in 1965. Since then it has awarded more than 4450 travelling fellowships.