Many people take up new activities after retiring to help remain active. Ann Phillpot did just that and has now passed an exam with merit – in playing the drums – with the help of a member of a 1990’s boy band.

The 78-year-old breast cancer survivor from Bushey had always enjoyed the instrument but had not seriously considered picking up a pair of sticks until she was inspired by watching a performance on television for charity.

TV and radio broadcaster Owain Wyn Evans raised more than £3million for the BBC’s Children in Need appeal in 2021 with his 24-hour drumathon and Ann, who has five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, explained: “I watched it and watched it, I’ve always loved the drums, and I thought ‘do you want to play the drums in this life or the next life?’ and I thought it was something I’d regret if I didn’t do it.”

Watch Ann playing on this video below

She made enquiries about taking lessons but did not pursue them due to the travelling distance, cost or being fully booked. But then she read an interview in the Watford Observer with Lee Murray, who shot to fame in the 1990s with Let Loose thanks to their No. 2 smash Crazy for You.

“I thought 'well, there’s my man!'” Ann smiled, having read about the Watford musician who has his own drum school and uses the instrument to help improve the wellbeing of others.

The former district nurse, who runs her own reflexology and aloe vera businesses, has been having lessons with Lee for about a year and has now successfully passed an exam with a merit award.

Watford Observer: Ann and Lee have become firm friends since they started working togetherAnn and Lee have become firm friends since they started working together (Image: Lee Murray)

“I said straight away ‘yes’,” Ann recalled when Lee first raised the subject of studying for a qualification. “I’ve got no pressures, I don’t need to pass an exam, I’m doing it because I like it but there’s no goal otherwise.

“If you know you’ve got something there you’ve got to do you’re going to practice that. I like to have a goal that I want at the end.”

Asked about what she enjoys about playing the drums, Ann explained: “My husband’s got dementia and they keep talking the same things at you over and over again which is quite stressful, so it is nice if you are stressed just to go on drums and play and play.

Watford Observer: Ann passed her drum exam with a merit awardAnn passed her drum exam with a merit award (Image: Ann Phillpot)

“I love rock ‘n’ roll. If it’s got a beat, I like all those sorts of tunes so that’s what he’s tried to pick for me to learn and enjoy.

“We’ll do the bit that we’ve got to learn and he’ll say ‘right, let’s have a bit of fun’ and he plays along with me and it’s just wonderful.”

Lee, who is back recording and performing with Let Loose after they reformed last year, said: “I’ve got a couple of students who are in their early 60s but with Ann it was new territory for me.

“It’s not easy for anyone to pick up something new at that age, and especially something where the demands on you cognitively and also trying to get your body to coordinate itself in the way you have to with drums, it's not an easy thing for anybody.

“That also shows how hard she’s worked. She’s loved the drums as far as I know for a long time, so to start at that maturity, take up an instrument like the drums, it’s really tough."