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Music tutor and founder of Swade Music in Sittingbourne loses cancer fight


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A music teacher, biochemist and much-loved friend and wife has died.

Cynthia Swade, 69, who grew up in Whitstable, was the retired shop owner of Swade Music in Sittingbourne, which she founded in November 1991.

Cynthia Swade, 69, of Sittingbourne, has died
Cynthia Swade, 69, of Sittingbourne, has died

For the first seven years Cynthia ran the business on her own where she only sold what the customer wanted or needed.

She attended St Alphege Church of England School and then Simon Langton Grammar School for Girls in Canterbury, before going on to study marine zoology and oceanography at Bangor in North Wales.

After graduating she worked in the department of cell biology at Glasgow University, travelling to Surrey where she married Robert Swade just over four years after they first met.

Cynthia joined the Medical Research Council at a laboratory specialising in neuro-psychiatry, before going on to gain her PhD in 1983 in the biochemistry of depression.

She was joint author of 34 published papers. She then developed her interest in music, passing exams for piano, theory, flute, saxophone, clarinet and recorder and teaching almost all of them.

Robert and Cynthia Swade, of Swade Music, Roman Square, Sittingbourne. Picture: Andy Payton
Robert and Cynthia Swade, of Swade Music, Roman Square, Sittingbourne. Picture: Andy Payton

Cynthia collected Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) exams and taught all the instruments except for saxophone.

In May 1988, Cynthia and Robert made a temporary move to Sittingbourne. They were still there 34 years later.

Cynthia introduced herself as a piano teacher at the music shop, Bell Music in Roman Square.

She was loaned a keyboard and started teaching keyboard as well.

That August, Cynthia’s first piano pupil walked through the door. She became a lifelong friend.

Robert and Cynthia Swade, of Swade Music, Roman Square, Sittingbourne. Picture: Andy Payton
Robert and Cynthia Swade, of Swade Music, Roman Square, Sittingbourne. Picture: Andy Payton

For more than 10 years, Cynthia regularly hired the Avenue Theatre for pupils’ concerts.

In 2000, Cynthia was diagnosed with breast cancer.

During this time, Swade Music continued to run but the couple had to take a step back and the family thanked all who helped keep the business afloat.

Cynthia retired from the shop in July 2015 and from teaching a few years later.

She was unique within the music industry having experience of teaching, retail, and exams. She took great pleasure in seeing those she had taught ‘fly’.

Cynthia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on March 8 and died on April 8.

Her funeral will be held at the Garden of England Crematorium at 11am on Wednesday, May 11.

Robert said: “Cynthia was a remarkable woman who influenced many lives.”

To see more about Cynthia’s life click here.

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