A volunteer who helps people with disabilities through music has won a community hero award.

Sandi Lowther, 54, from Harpenden, is a session volunteer for Hertfordshire charity Electric Umbrella, which uses music to help people with learning disabilities.

Mrs Lowther, who also works with Mencap, heard about the charity two years ago as members of the charity were using services at Electric Umbrella - based in Rickmansworth, Watford and Hemel Hempstead.

She said because of her musical background she thought the charity would be a perfect fit.

She said: “I had piano, guitar and clarinet lessons as a child, but my preference has always been the drums that my parents and my school tried hard to steer me away from.

“I have since learned and love to play them and loudly.”

She now runs weekly sessions and helps to encourage and engage members and their support workers so they can get the most out of the session.

She said: “There are too many moments to mention. But seeing the reaction of the audiences at all the shows has been brilliant.

“There is so much emotion and joy from them in response to our wonderful members. It has been amazing to witness.”

Mrs Lowther says the charity gives people a chance to take part in music that they might not normally have.

She added: “It allows them to express themselves and gives them the chance to perform to audiences.

“Some of the members are usually quiet but when they appear on stage, they just let go. It's great they can do this.”

Mrs Lowther also runs regular music evenings for the elderly and dementia patients, which helps her work with Electric Umbrella members.

She added: “It is a very rewarding role as it enables me to put my experience to good use.

“Sometimes the role can be challenging, but I’m generally calm, easy going and able to deal with most situations.”

When she told she had won the award Mrs Lowther said: “I’m normally quite quiet, so I was shocked.

“It is a big thing and lovely to be recognised. It is quite a privilege.”