Electric Umbrella’s founders Mel Boda and Tom Billington scooped the award for CHARITY WORKERS OF THE YEAR at the Watford Audentior awards held at The Colosseum on Friday.

5 years ago this creative duo recognised that once a child with learning disabilities turned 18 then opportunities for meaningful social interactions were limited. And so Electric Umbrella was born.

With their weekly music workshops starting in Watford, Mel and Tom founded what is considered a trailblazing charity, using music to enrich the lives of adults with learning disabilities.

These sessions provided not only regular meaningingful social interaction, but also the educational and therapeutic benefits that music brings. As a professional musician Tom Billington’s outlook was to give each and every member the feeling of being in a band and truly belonging. Over time ELECTRIC UMBRELLA and its members were being booked for gigs and shows and asked to appear at theatres and festivals, in pubs, clubs and workplaces. Their offering uniquely fresh, energetic and joyful.

Mel Boda “Through our work, people are starting to take notice of the important messages of Electric Umbrella, and we can challenge the perceptions of around 20,000 people a year via the reach we have though our live music performances and workshops. Juggling a young family and running a charity can be tricky at times, but I feel so excited that the impact of what we are doing is being felt so widely, and that so many people and organisations what to be a part of the Electric Umbrella story”.

Tom Billington said, “Five years on we still sit around a kitchen table for meetings, but we have built an amazing pool of professional musicians to work alongside us, have written and recorded an album with our members, and are about to enter in to the most exciting year ahead with the release of another single and video. It’s got a momentum of its own - there is a need for this and the public’s response has been amazing.”

The 2019 Audentior awards gave Watford residents the chance to put forward their everyday heroes who go above and beyond and help local people achieve something fantastic. The nomination of Mel and Tom from Electric Umbrella included high praise of the organisation, including: “The group allows people with learning difficulties to express themselves and represent who they really are. Electric Umbrella has become a real community for their members, extended families, support networks and the thousands of others who experience the joy of seeing them perform with such energy and passion”

As well as being award winners on the night, the evening’s guests were also entertained by Electric Umbrella who performed during the opening ceremony.

Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor and Council Chairman Asif Khan were at the event to congratulate them.

To find out more about the charity, as well as their album ‘I Am the Dream Machine’, visit