Richard Stilgoe

Founder & Honorary President

Sir Richard Stilgoe’s 50-year career in show business spanned radio, television, cabaret and theatre and lead him to many egregious people and places. It gained him a diverse collection of fortuitous and deserved honours.

In the mid-1990s, Sir Richard Stilgoe and neurologist Dr Michael Swallow started piloting music weeks for disabled people. These were so effective that Sir Richard decided to start a place where disabled people and students could work together for longer than a week – to change their own and other people’s lives by creating new music and performing in public. The Orpheus Centre opened in 1997 at Sir Richard's former family home in Godstone, Surrey.

Orpheus started with five disabled students who lived on-site, learning to cook, manage budgets, do laundry and go shopping. They also wrote songs, devised dances and challenged people’s preconceived ideas about disabled people whenever and wherever they performed.