Former West End star turned Hitchin business owner up for award after striking a chord with youngsters

Katherine Watmough runs the Hitchin and Baldock branch of Monkey Music. Picture: Supplied

Katherine Watmough runs the Hitchin and Baldock branch of Monkey Music. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

A former familiar face at the West End has recently been nominated for a national award, after setting up a successful franchise in Hitchin and Baldock.

Katherine once worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, appeared in West End shows, live TV con

Katherine once worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, appeared in West End shows, live TV concerts and on film soundtracks. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

Katherine Watmough, who spent years travelling the world playing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and appearing in West End shows, launched a new career in 2018 with the creation of the Hitchin and Baldock branch of Monkey Music.

Monkey Music classes are aimed at babies and toddlers, and work to support under fives within a musical environment.

Throughout her twenties, Katherine enjoyed the glitz and glamour of working as a professional musician.

She performed on Top of the Pops with big names including Boyzone, Westlife and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, as well as being a regular face at the famous Abbey Road studios in London.

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Katherine would spend her afternoons and evenings playing in award-winning musicals, with over 500 Phantom of the Opera performances under her belt.

For someone used to the fast-paced lifestyle and buzz of being on stage, the decision to set up her own business was a leap of faith for Katherine – but a decision she has not looked back on.

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“When I was constantly commuting to Central London and regularly catching flights around the world, I knew I was very lucky and enjoyed some fantastic experiences,” Katherine says.

“However, when the travel and anti-social working hours began to feel like a chore, I knew it was time for a change.”

Katherine comes from a musical background and studied at The Royal College of Music from 1993 to 1998.

Since going down the franchising route in 2018, aged 42, she’s been able to use these skills to strike a chord with budding young musicians – establishing the Baldock and Hitchin branch of Monkey Music.

She has also recently been recognised for her hard work, making the shortlist for a prestigious HSBC British Franchise Awards in the Lifestyle category.

Katherine added: “Across Hertfordshire there’s certainly no shortage of activities for little ones to enjoy, but Monkey Music is something a bit different and I’m thrilled to have my franchise recognised with this nomination for an award that means so much.

“Even during lockdown, we made sure that the show carried on as we moved our classes online, establishing ‘Monkey Music at home’.

“The warm feedback from customers was that ‘Monkey Music at home’ offered them some much needed comfort and familiarity during a difficult time.

“We made sure that no babies or toddlers missed out on their regular weekly classes and I’m really proud of the online community that I got to know during lockdown.”

She compares the feeling of a great session to the buzz she used to feel when performing on stage:

“Seeing the children develop and learn is really special, who knows we could potentially have some future stars!”

The bfa HSBC British Franchise Awards are designed to showcase some of the more talented and successful franchisees operating across the UK and the winners will be announced in November.

You can find out more about Monkey Music on their website

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