A former nurse and mum-of-four who started her own organisation to bring mothers together has been honoured by the Prime Minister.

Kate Valentine experienced post natal depression and anxiety but found singing in a group brought her a huge sense of wellbeing.

The 44-year-old, from Forest Row, near East Grinstead, found it helped her to cope with the changes of motherhood, make new connections and manage the stress of being a working single parent.

The Argus: Kate Valentine, bottom left, with some Singing MamasKate Valentine, bottom left, with some Singing Mamas (Image: Singing Mamas)

So in 2010, while employed as an A&E nurse at Brighton and Sussex Hospital Trust, Kate set up her non profit Singing Mamas to support women through early motherhood with community and song. 

Now she has received a Points of Light award from Rishi Sunak in recognition of her work over the past 14 years.

Kate, whose own children are now 24,18, 17 and six, said: "The first ever Singing Mamas group was my own recovery space. It was partly about the community that developed as the group grew, but it was mainly the practising of songs every week that improved my mood.

"It means so much to have the work of Singing Mamas recognised in this way. So often it feels like you're invisible as a mum so raising the profile of this fantastic movement and all
of the women who make it happen and having people in power saying 'yes your wellbeing matters' is such a boost."

The focus of Singing Mamas is not on rehearsing for a final performance. Instead they sing for the love of singing and the wellbeing benefits that it brings. There are no auditions and you do not need to be able to read music, have any experience, or even be a mother to join. The groups are open to all women.

Since its inception, Kate has trained more than 200 women across the globe to deliver the Singing Mamas approach in their own community.

Groups now reach thousands of women and babies every week across eight countries and 50 local authorities, with the mission to have a group in every local authority in the UK.

Kate is also working on a creative health pilot project with nursing students at Chester University.

The Argus: Kate Valentine said she was 'voice shamed' as a childKate Valentine said she was 'voice shamed' as a child (Image: Singing Mamas)

For Kate, who cites Aretha Franklin as her vocal hero, her experience of singing was not always such a positive one. “Voice shamed” at the age of 11 by a teacher at her Dorset primary school, Kate was told to “go back to the classroom” when she auditioned for the school choir.

She said: "Looking back, that moment stole my voice away for many years. That failed audition stopped me from truly enjoying singing, although I kept on trying. It wasn't until years later when I developed the Singing Mamas approach, that I was able to sing freely and joyfully again, with no fear of judgement."

Kate runs Singing Mamas groups in Forest Row on Wednesdays from 9.15am to 10.45am and 11am to 12.30pm. There are also groups in East Hoathly, Woodingdean, Patcham, Brighton, Lewes, Hove and Newhaven.