Joanna Llewellin

Joanna worked as school secretary at Fountainhall and taught recorder there. Her sons played with local band, The Deaf Heights Cajun Band and also with Orchestra del Sol which were sponsored by the British Council to link with musicians abroad.


I remember desperately wanting to learn the piano from the age of 5 or 6. I was sent to a convent boarding school age four and three quarters. I had lessons but as I was very young, I remember progress being very slow which I found frustrating.

My mother sang the occasional snatch of Gilbert and Sullivan and older siblings learnt piano I think. I was told that, as a very small child, I would always burst into tears when I heard The Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana.
My music teacher, a dear, rather doddery old nun called Ambi, taught class music and gave individual piano tuition. Ambi continued to teach me up to O level. I remember playing the cello in the school orchestra. I found that easy as the parts were simple with the occasional note here and there in the bass. From about the age of twelve I used to go to concerts three times a year with the school when the Bournemouth symphony orchestra came to Weston.

I love singing and sing with The Gala Water Choir. Classical music is my real love. I also belong to the U3A recorder group. I taught recorder at Fountainhall primary school while working there as a classroom assistant/playground supervisor/secretary.

Sam and I have four children. I delayed starting them on musical tuition until they were eight as I felt the frustration of starting too early should be avoided. The twins, Laurence and Jamie played sax and oboe in the Borders Youth Orchestra. Matthew played the sax and Katie the clarinet. The Borders Youth Orchestra ran musical weekends which the boys took part in too. Alistair Salmond was the music education adviser at the time.

Matthew played the harmonica at Junior Acoustic Music, a traditional music school founded by Ruth Flavin and Kathy Stewart which used the Stow Town Hall for its premises when it began in 1991, later moving to Langlee Community Centre. Matthew joined a drumming group later, in Glasgow, called Samba Ya Bamba. Katie went to Ruth Flavin for piano lessons.

In Fountainhall there was a group called The Deaf Heights Cajun Band. Deaf Heights is the highest point of the Moorfoot Hills, hence the name. The musicians were crafts people, woodworkers and potters, from the hippy era. Laurence and Jamie joined in with the dregs of this group and formed a new band which they called Les Misere. Laurence played the accordion in this band. He had picked it up at a car boot sale one day. Kim Tebble was the main one who carried on from the original band into Les Misere. Swede McBroom, an American, was also with the original band.
They played in Fountainhall village hall on one occasion. It was not well attended by village folk.

Laurence and Jamie were also in a ten-piece group called the Orchestra del Sol. I remember the boys' concerts. I found them amazing. They were quite prominent. They wrote most of their own music. The British Council sponsored them and sent them to India for some festival where they had to play with Indian musicians. They found the different style of music with its different rhythms really hard to adjust to. They also went to China for the Chinese New Year and Australia too. The band started in 2004. The first concert they gave was in Princes Street Gardens when all those extra countries came into the EU, like Poland, Latvia etc. They played Balkan Folk music.

John Renbourn, of Pentangle fame, lived in the village for several years.