Friday, 12 August 2022

Woman with rare disease to teach music to babies

A WOMAN from Wargrave who was forced to give up work due to a rare lung disorder is launching a

A WOMAN from Wargrave who was forced to give up work due to a rare lung disorder is launching a music group for babies and toddlers.

Chez Payne-Annetts, 36, suffered a collapsed lung four times in as many months in the winter of 2008/2009.

She was diagnosed with catamenial pneumothorax, a rare condition caused by deposits from the womb eating through the diaphragm and settling in the lung.

Mrs Payne-Annetts, of Kings Acre, is one of only 14 people in the UK to be diagnosed since the Sixties.

She had surgery at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London in March 2009.

This operation involved removing part of her lung that was damaged beyond repair, stapling up the rest of the organ and removing as much of the deposits as possible. A wire mesh was then placed across her diaphragm to repair and prevent further deposits escaping.

Mrs Payne-Annetts, who ran Wargrave Theatre Workshop’s youth group for 17 years, said: “It took six months to fully recover from the surgery and more than a year before I could sing properly again.

“After surgery I had to rebuild the strength in my diaphragm but now I am in a local rock band called Fully Twisted.”

The former practice manager for a London mental health practice said that finding regular employment since her diagnosis had been impossible.

She said: “There is an eight-month gap in my employment history and as there are so many applicants for every job these days, businesses have told me that my health history makes me a ‘risk’.

“I am also on high-dose medication to prevent my menstrual cycle and have to have check-ups every six months.

“I have been struggling financially, although I have been working as a charity fund-raiser for the Reading Association for The Blind since March 2010 and the Cybersmile Foundation since July.

“I have been trying to find a way to fight back and have now decided that if no one will employ me, I’d better try employing myself.”

Mrs Payne-Annetts, who became a member of Wargrave Parish Council last year, decided to use her background in music and drama after seeing an advert on the NetMums website.

She has bought a franchise of Caterpillar Music, a nationwide scheme that introduces children to music, and her first classes will be held at Coronation Hall in Woodley on May 2 and Wargrave Cricket Club on May 3.

Mrs Payne-Annetts said: “I thought it would be wonderful to do something that utilised my skills, so I did a little market research and was surprised to find that there were not that many baby and toddler groups in the smaller villages like Wargrave.

“I am also aware that many modern-day mothers, especially young ones, may not be living near, or have access to, an older relative to pass on the skills of playing and communicating with their children and the importance of that to a child’s development.

“I would like to use the classes to bridge that gap and help mums learn simple rhymes and songs to share with their child.

“Some music classes are very rigid and controlled whereas Caterpillar Music offers a more relaxed, friendly environment that benefits both the child and the carer in socialising and reducing isolation.

“At each class, a percussion instrument and a puppet is given to each child to use whatever their age, from just a few weeks old right up to three.

“Each song is chosen because it helps improve a child’s vocabulary and the actions aid dexterity and movement.”

Mrs Payne-Annetts said she hoped to expand the business to Henley, Charvil, Twyford and Sonning Common as well as to nurseries and playgroups.

For more information, or to register for a free trial, call 01189 401750 or email

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