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The Queen's Anniversary Prize

The Queen's Anniversary Prize 2021 logo

Our world-leading music therapy research, harnessing the power of music to help people living with dementia, earned a major honour.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes recognise outstanding work by UK universities and colleges. They are the highest national Honour awarded in further and higher education in the UK, for work that shows quality and innovation and delivers real benefit to the wider world. The Queen granted them every two years, and Anglia Ruskin University was recognised in November 2021.

Our work in music therapy, driving innovation in practice, research and policy with a focus on the wellbeing of people with dementia and their families, earned this distinction.

What is dementia?

Dementia is the progressive loss of the ability to process thoughts, causing people to struggle with memory, understanding, communication and mood. Around 55 million people worldwide live with dementia and someone in the UK develops dementia about every three minutes. It is expected to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.

Why were we honoured?

Our Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR) is dedicated to advancing the understanding of music therapy and its ability to effect positive change on health and human wellbeing. It’s the largest and most influential research unit of its kind in the world, with a team of 30 researchers, including 20 PhD students at any one time. Over the last 25 years our researchers have developed world-leading expertise and driven innovations in global policy and practice that involves research into music and the brain. We were the first university in the UK to offer Masters level music therapy training.

Our researchers have formed more than 20 partnerships with organisations including Alzheimer’s UK, the Max Planck Centre in Germany, universities across the world, the Britten Pears Foundation, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and several NHS Trusts and care providers, including MHA Care Homes. Our research has directly improved care for people and their families, living with dementia in care homes and in the community.

We contributed to the Music for Dementia Commission in the House of Lords in 2018, and to changes in the NICE guidelines for dementia in 2019. For the first time these recommend music therapy for people with dementia.

Examples of our pioneering work include leading the UK arm of HOMESIDE, one of the largest non-pharmacological trials ever carried out in music therapy, led by the University of Melbourne, Australia. This international study involves 1,000 participants and we are testing the effects of music and reading programmes at home for carers and their loved ones living with dementia.

Music therapists from ARU work with the Saffron Hall Trust to provide music therapy for people with dementia and their caregivers. World-class performers, including members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, regularly take part in the weekly Together in Sound sessions in Saffron Walden and these groups are now also running in Braintree.

Explore music therapy at ARU

You might also be interested in REF 2021

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) assesses the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, and is carried out every six to seven years. In May 2022 our music-therapy research was judged as having world-leading impact for its work benefitting people living with dementia and autism. Read more about: