Hi, I’m Caroline and I’m the founder of Whippersnappers.
I studied mime in Paris and later trained as an actress at The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. I really enjoyed my acting career which ranged from street performing across Europe to Theatre tours, TV Commercials, an episode of “The Bill” and a Channel 4 Film “Who Needs a Heart”
In Oct 1994 I started voluntarily running music sessions at my daughter’s parent and toddler group in the old Effra School building in Brixton. Michael one of the dads brought in a mini electric organ and we all used to have a jolly sing-along every Friday morning. Then one day a Brixton magazine was dropped through my door, and I spotted an ad saying the new landlords of Brockwell lido were looking for people to rent workshop space.
Brockwell lido was a very hip place to go in those days and the Brixton community at the time had an easy-going hippy vibe. So, I told all my friends I’m starting a music club, baked some carrot cake, asked people to put donations in my orange hat and I started running weekly under-fives music classes. I got excited about developing my musical skills and started taking drumming classes in the old “Cool Tan” community centre on Coldharbour Lane. I practised all the songs whilst pushing my daughter on the swings and started recording my own backing tracks on an Ensonique keyboard. It was so much fun the classes were buzzing and there was no limit to how many people we could squeeze into the room!
Whippersnappers just organically grew and grew. Then in 1998, I met Kirk Service an R&B and reggae artist and we recorded a new style of children’s music which we called Pickney Beat and created the name “Whippersnappers”. We diversified and started fundraising and running community events. In 1999 Daria one of the Whippersnapper Mums raised £10,000 from Eidos who created the video game “Tomb Raider”. We started working with local schools, nurseries, elders’ clubs, Landmark, The 198 Gallery, Adventure playgrounds and community centres creating a Whippersnapper magazine and community tape. We then did a big launch called “Pickney Beat day” where we built a giant scaffolding stage inside the empty swimming pool and invited people from the local community to perform.
Through this event, I met Uncle Jo from Abladei UK a Ghanaian cultural Drum and Dance group and he invited me to Ghana. 21 years later I am married to a Ghanaian and am now based in Ghana travelling back and forth to London so I can keep Whippersnapper alive and vibrant.
The other aspect to Whippersnappers is of course the work we do for children and young people with disabilities. This work has been so very rewarding, and we have been delivering SEND holiday play schemes and childcare since 2010. There are so many young people with disabilities who started their journey with Whippersnappers by attending our baby and toddler music sessions and have been able to continue to enjoy Whippersnapper activities all through their childhood and teenage years.
What can I say except we are blessed to have been given the opportunity to do such special work and to support so many local families and their children?
Thank you to everyone who has supported Whippersnappers throughout our journey so far and to those of you who have recently joined. We welcome our new generation of children and grownups. We also hope we can continue to meet everyone’s needs as the world around us continually changes.
Thank you again,