2012: dean rodney singers and paralympics opening ceremony

2012 was the biggest year to date for Heart n Soul. We reached more people, travelled to more new countries and tried out more new things than any previous years.

We were delighted that Fish Police front man Dean Rodney was supported by the first Unlimited commission to realise his dream of bringing a global band of singers, dancers and musicians together from seven countries to create original music and dance videos using the internet. We visited Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Croatia, Japan and China, recruited 72 members of the Dean Rodney Singers band from across the world and created 23 brand new tracks to soundtrack the Dean Rodney Universe.

You can find out more about this incredible project here. Without a doubt, this project has changed Heart n Soul for the better and has meant that we have embraced digital art in a completely new and different way.

Lizzie Emeh and The Fish Police also got to play a part in the 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony in front of 80,000 people. As well as performing the Fish Police theme in the pre show, Matt and Dean got to perform with other members of the ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ cast and Lizzie Emeh performed ‘I Am What I Am’ with Beverly Knight as the closing number.

On the left you can see the performance with Lizzie Emeh and Beverly Knight at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!

Good Times: A Celebration of 30 Years

Photography: Tim Mitchell. Click on the photos to see more!

Last Thursday we celebrated our 30th birthday in true Heart n Soul fashion when our artists performed across two stages and brought the house down!

We had electric performances from artists including Lizzie Emeh, Pino Frumiento, The Fish Police, Too Hot for Candy and Tilley Milburn, and our newer artists including K-Dog Generation and Electric Fire.

Between performances the audience heard some of the captivating stories from The Big 30 Archive, as beautiful portraits were projected and interviews were played.

A big shout out to our excellent DJs who kept the dancefloor alive long after the performances finished!

You can click through photos from the night on the left, but we have lots more here. Watch a short video of the night soon on the left too, or visit our YouTube page here.

Go to our Events page to find out what's next up in our Big 30 Summer...

2011: Allsorts and Do Your Own Thing: The Taking Part revolution

Click the photo to see more!


2011 was the year Heart n Soul really opened up to more young people and adults who wanted to take part and explore new ways of expressing themselves.

Do your Own Thing was the successor to our Heart n Soul Youth project and moved from a music theatre session once a week to five sessions taking place monthly at Midi Music in Deptford. Midi Music is run by Big 30 interviewee Wozzy Brewster and was formerly known as the Lewisham Academy of Music (where pre-Heart n Soul members first got together in 1984).

Allsorts started because adults at Heart n Soul were asking for more opportunities to regularly take part. We wanted to find a way to offer people regular new ways to try things and grow the Heart n soul community. Both these projects are continuing and thriving today and are essential ways that participants can grow, develop and add their creative voices to what we do.

On the left is the original Allsorts promo and the Do Your Own Thing superhero’s film, which also illustrates how we were beginning to engage with more digital tools and filmmaking.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!


Heart n Soul Now was an event that we held to celebrate the award of an MBE to both Pino Frumiento and Mark Williams for services to Disability Arts. 10 artists chose their favourite Pino classic and then performed their own individual spin on the track.

The event was attended by various high profile speakers and politicians and was a powerful recognition and endorsement of the work of Heart n Soul.

2010 was also the second year that we took the Beautiful Octopus Club to the Paradise Gardens Festival in Victoria Park in Hackney where we ran the club over 2 days for the first time.

It was fantastic to see the BOC integrated into a mainstream festival on our own terms and amazing to offer loads of artists and performers the opportunity to perform to loads of new audiences – and The Fish Police got to play on the main stage too!

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!


Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 12.32.19.png

As part of our Big 30 Summer Takeover Heart n Soul Radio is live!

We’ll be broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the whole of July, featuring old and new Heart n Soul music, special live shows from Heart n Soul artists, participants and staff, PLUS recordings of Big 30 events like our epic concert, Good Times: A Celebration of 30 Years.

Tune in every day at 10pm for regular shows from Heart n Soul artists Dean Rodney and Tilley Milburn and find out which live shows are coming up each week on the Heart n Soul Radio webpage here

You can listen via the radio player on the homepage of our website – just hit play!


Click the photo to see more!

2009 was the launch of Heart n Soul artist Lizzie Emeh’s ‘Loud and Proud’ album at The Southbank Centre. Lizzie tells us about the year below.

“2009, it was ground-breaking for Heart n Soul and for me because I was the 1st solo artist with a learning disability to release an album in the UK and it went straight onto iTunes! I’m so proud that I did it because we didn’t do it for any other reason than to get people recognised, to get disability recognised, that’s the drive behind my music. Since 2009 a lot of things have changed, I don’t know why we didn’t have acceptance in the first place but we have a lot more now.

The reason why we have a lot more acceptance is because of prestigious companies like Heart n Soul”

Lizzie Emeh is also one of our Big 30 contributors, listen to her interview and see her portrait here.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!



Since January we have been updating you as we create The Big 30 Archive, a unique archive of learning disability culture to mark our 30th birthday. We have recorded interviews with 30 people and groups made up of Heart n Soul artists, staff, volunteers and participants with and without learning disabilities. 

We are thrilled to now be able to bring you clips of all The Big 30 interviews, alongside brand new portraits created by photographer Franklyn Rodgers. Explore the Archive page of this website and enjoy hearing stories from the last 30 years.

The 30th interview is with YOU, our audience, so once you have heard the interviews you can tell us what you thought on this online survey we have set up.

Remember, you can read all about how we created The Big 30 Archive on our News pages of this website.


Click the photo to see more!

This was the year The Fish Police band were born. The Fish Police are frontman Dean Rodney Jr., Matthew Howe on guitar and Charles Stuart on bass. They all met when Charles and Zoe Gilmour were running the Heart n Soul youth music and drama workshop with young people from Greenvale School in Lewisham.

Heart n Soul was going through a big transition and was moving away from only working with artists and participants in groups. Dean, Matt and Charles decided they were going to form a band together.

Here they are performing at Heart n Soul’s Squidz Club singing one of their most popular tracks ‘Chicken Nuggets For Me’.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News pages!


Click the photo to see more!

‘Look’ was a commission from the Liberty Festival, the biggest free disability arts festival in Europe, which in 2009 was still happening in Trafalgar Square. We devised a piece working with Big 30 interviewees Catherine Long and Danny Smith as well as choreographer Fiona Findlay which was all about the ’gaze’.

It was playing with the idea of people being stared at and we flipped things around with our dancers being dressed with small mirrors and having eyes in their hands so they were turning their gaze back on the audience. 60 dancers comprising artists and participants at Heart n Soul performed the piece on the steps outside the National Gallery and in front of Nelson’s column.

The Fish Police wrote a song for the piece called ‘Expandable’.

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!


Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 17.01.18.png

We are thrilled that The Big 30 project has been featured in the media this week!

A big thanks to BBC London News for featuring us twice on BBC One on the day of our Big 30 launch. It was great to see Heart n Soul co-founder Mark Williams, Heart n Soul artist Tilley Milburn and The Fish Police frontman Dean Rodney talking about Heart n Soul and the importance of creative work from people with learning disabilities.

Mark and Tilley also did a great interview with Simon Lederman on BBC London Radio, which you can listen to here at 1 hour and 10 minutes into the show.

Plus, read about the project in London News Online, Enable Magazine, Disability Arts Online and Time Out!


Click on the images to see more! Photography by Christopher Andreou and Getty Images.

The Big 30 Summer Takeover has begun! Heart n Soul art installations are now on display in seven different locations across Deptford.

You can see brand new portraits created by photographer Franklyn Rodgers and hear interviews from The Big 30 Archive in Deptford Lounge throughout the whole of July. Heart n Soul have also taken over The Albany cafe, Buster Mantis, a Deptford Market Yard window, the old HSBC building, Call & Response and the Could be Good studio. Find out more about what you can see at each of the installations here.

During your visit you can also listen to our special Big 30 highlights podcast, featuring interviews and music from The Big 30 Archive. Find out how to download the podcast to your phone or mobile device here.

At The Big 30 Installation you will have the chance to tell us your thoughts and become part of our 30th interview! So please come on down and be part of the celebrations!

See more photos of the Big 30 installations here.

Don't forget we have a fantastic programme of events you can attend too. More information is available on The Big 30 website.


Big 30 portraits by Franklyn Rodgers. Click on the photos to see more of our installation in progress!

The Big 30 Summer Takeover begins THIS Wednesday 5 July.

Our brilliant design team are building art installations in The AlbanyDeptford LoungeCould be Good, Call & Response and Deptford Market Yard, which will be available from Wednesday 5 July until Sunday 30 July.

See photos of the early stages of our main installation at Deptford Lounge, where you can see portraits and hear voices from The Big 30 Archive.

Find out more about our installations around Deptford here!


Our Big 30 flagship event Good Times is just around the corner! Preparations have begun for the big night and the Heart n Soul artists have started their rehearsals.

In the video, Heart n Soul co-founders Mark Williams and Pino Frumiento practice Pino's track 'Loneliness'. 

Come and see them perform LIVE alongside other Heart n Soul artists who will be backed by a full band on Thursday 13 July at Good Times!

Find out more and book your tickets here.


Cheryl’s Pic’n’Mix Room was a space designed by Big 30 contributor Cheryl to represent all the things that she loved and wanted to share.

The space was one of the first projects that another Big 30 contributor, Adele Jeffs, designed with Cheryl. This was also one of the first projects that our Media team had been involved in which included two other Big 30 contributors Ono Dafedjaiye and Ned Smith in the making of the film.

This was also the year that we made a DVD of the music show that we had been touring over the last few years called The Heart n Soul Experience; this was the last time we did the show. We worked with film Production Company “Cor films” and director Tom Hadley on a five-camera shoot of the show live at the Beautiful Octopus Club.

This clip shows a song performed my Mark Snead (who will also be performing at the Good Times event on Thursday 13 July) and is called ‘I Know What to do”

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News page!


As the Beautiful Octopus Club continued to grow and develop we began to work with individual artists outside of Heart n Soul to offer them the opportunity to do something different at our club.

Mat Fraser was really interested in trying out performing as Elvis Presley and the Heart n Soul band backed him on July 13. By this stage, we were making full use of The Albany protools recording set up which meant that we could get a high-quality audio recording of what ever happened on the main stage.

We were also beginning to document and film every club and the result was this great version of Mat Fraser singing “In The Ghetto” as Elvis. Mat Fraser is also one of our big 30 contributors. 

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News pages!


Click the photo to see more!

Have you seen the old HSBC building in Deptford? As part of the Big 30 installations, we've given the building a major makeover!

HUGE thanks to everyone who helped make it happen! Risik Patel especially who owns the building. Our Big 30 design team Adele Jeffs and Hannah Mason from Could Be Good for putting all the artwork together and Jess from Colour Makes People Happy for supplying us with all the awesome paint. Also thanks to David McNicholas for volunteering for the whole weekend and everyone else who came down and helped including Heart n Soul staff!

People have been giving us great feedback on the building, we've brightened up Deptford!

Please tag us in any pics you take of the building:

Instagram @HeartnSoulPics
Twitter @HeartnSoulArt




We are launching the archive page of our Big 30 website next week! You'll be able to listen to audio clips from each of The Big 30 contributors and see their beautiful portraits.

On the left is Heart n Soul co-founder Pino Frumiento whose Big 30 portrait was captured by photographer Franklyn Rodgers. Below you can listen to one of the clips from his interview.

Look out for the launch of the Archive page next week where you'll be able to hear more stories and see more portraits featuring our Big 30 stars.


Huge thanks to Ben Connors for the illustrations and Felipe Pagani for making the film.

The Big 30 Summer takeover celebrations begin next week and we're very excited! Come down to Deptford and see our installations in The Albany, Deptford Lounge, Could be Good, Call and Response and Deptford Market Yard from Wednesday 5 July until Sunday 30 July. Find out more about our installations around Deptford here.

One of our highlights of our Big 30 Summer is our amazing event "Heart n Soul presents Good Times: A Celebration of 30 years" on Thursday 13 July where you can see live performances from our Heart n Soul artists Lizzie Emeh, Fish Police, Pino Frumiento and more! Get your tickets here.

Check out our brand new Big 30 teaser promo on the left where you can find out more about The Big 30 and all the great things we've got planned for July.



Road Trip was a documentary / magic realism film that featured six people from Heart n Soul and was made by Keo films for Channel 4.

It was the first time learning disabled people had been on primetime television and the show went out on a Sunday between 7pm-8pm. It wasn’t a film about Heart n Soul but it featured people who had important roles in Heart n Soul. They were Ono Dafedjaiye, Paul Bewell, Janet Bobin, Pino Frumiento, Kelly Bashford and Danny Smith; Ono, Pino and Danny are all Big 30 interviewees.

We went from Lands End to John O’Groats in Scotland on a red double decker bus similar to the one they had in the film “Summer Holiday” (which featured Cliff Richard). Cliff Richard made a surprise appearance and sang Summer Holiday live with Pino on the top deck of the bus. Audience figures showed that over a million people tuned in!

Ono‘The road trip made me feel like I was a film star...  It was fun and we should definitely do it again!’

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News pages!


In 2004 The Albany in Deptford closed it’s main space for a year for refurbishments and we had to find a new home for the Beautiful Octopus Club.

A brand new venue called Ocean had just opened on Mare Street in Hackney. Ocean comprised of three different performance spaces, two live spaces and a studio space and our Beautiful Octopus Club was the first ever event to take over all three spaces.

There was a certain amount of risk because our audience had not really been to Hackney before, but we worked with the venue and insured that seven hundred people attended the first club night there in 2004.

In the photo is Mat Fraser, another Big 30 interviewee performing a track he created specifically for that club night called “Beautiful Octopus Sexy People”. Mat invited people to come on stage and gyrate on stage with him, which they did with great enthusiasm! Heart n Soul also performed a version of the show “Large” on the Ocean main space (The week after George Clinton and P-Funk All Stars performed there!) and you can see a clip of that performance here. 

Look out for more trips down memory lane on our News pages!