Last week I went to a garden party at the British Consul in Los Angeles, thanks to the local Chamber of Commerce, Worcestershire who granted me a place to be part of a small group of UK ambassadors to represent British and Irish music in America. It was a wonderful experience. In a crowd of 300 people the first person to randomly speak to me was a gentleman with a strong connection to Bewdley. He said he was visiting family there recently in search of a location to position a statue. Curiously, I ask who the statue is of. He replies “My great grandfather.” So I said, “Do you mind me asking who was your great grandfather?” He said, “His name was Stanley Baldwin. The Prime Minister.” That is, Stanley Baldwin who was three times Prime Minister, the only one to have ever served under three monarchs – and most interestingly to me closely linked with the Pre-Raphaelite brother and sisterhood that inspires mine, and many of my close friends, art and music.

Stanley was first cousin and lifelong friends with Rudyard Kipling and his father Alfred founded the beautiful Wilden church in Stourport, a hidden gem on a housing estate, featuring 14 original Edward Burne Jones and William Morris stained glass windows, one of which illustrates Stanley making his way in life with a guardian angel by his side. So here we are, 5,000 miles away from Bewdley in a garden in Hollywood, the official City of Angels, talking about the angels featured in the windows of a church built by his great great grandfather, where I have sang many times for weddings and events. He continued to tell me the current favourite spot for Mr Baldwin’s statue is outside Bewdley’s HSBC bank. I said “I know it well, that’s where my mum used to work.” We laughed.

Stanley Baldwin was born at Lower Park House, Bewdley in 1867 and died at Astley Hall, near Stourport in 1947. He is buried at Worcester Cathedral. He was once quoted saying “I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.” There’s a lot to be said for intuition, and my feeling about this meeting was that it was more than a ‘coincidence.’ It felt like a beautiful affirmation to stay true to the songs of the spirit and soul, especially in this fast paced ever-changing world of consumerism, to follow the heart, go with the muse, and let the angels lead the way.