Tribute to Penelope Tobin

On Saturday 15th July 2023, the world lost a wonderful woman, Penelope Tobin.  I first met her in May 2018 and have been supporting her with her charity work since then.  I look back on how she has touched so many lives.


Barrier Breakers Foundation

Barrier Breakers Foundation has been delivering training and educational projects since 2000.  When I was brought on board in 2018, as charity administrator, we started running soft skills workshops for young people.  Since 2018, we have delivered hundreds of sessions in colleges, transforming the outlook of attendees.  We even managed to deliver workshops virtually during covid, which greatly empowered students, giving them the tools to adapt to change and take care of their wellbeing.

Be Yourself Brilliantly! is the flagship workshop developed by Penelope, using her BBM methodology.  During this 2-hour workshop, young people are shown the importance of soft skills in terms of employability and wellbeing and how they can harness these in terms of greater self-awareness, increased confidence, better listening skills and so much more.

One of our biggest advocates for these workshops is Anthony Robinson at College of North East London, and says “Barrier Breakers Foundation delivered a series of outstanding Soft Skills training sessions to the students at CONEL…I would highly recommend this to all educational institutions as a key workshop for developing students’ soft skills to increase their employment and life opportunities.”

Off the back of covid, we developed Soft Skills for Wellbeing, which supported young people and the challenges they faced in the “new normal”.  During the session, participants were introduced to soft skills, giving them the tools to deal with their mental wellbeing, structuring their life, relationships and sparking their creativity.

I am extremely sad that these workshops will no longer be run at colleges.  Penelope and I got such a buzz from the hugely positive feedback from attendees, and you could immediately see how it changed their outlook to life.  Thank you to the charity trustees, facilitators, colleges and young people for such a wonderful five years.


The Jazz of Business

Before I met Penelope, she was an entrepreneur, author, speaker, corporate consultant, soft skills advocate, educator, charity founder, and jazz musician.  One of the amazing things she did was create and deliver the unique Jazz of Business presentation.  In her presentations she explores the Jazz of Business relationship as it applies to leadership, innovation, teamworking, trust and other essential business considerations.  It’s all about the improviser mindset!  You can see her in action here.


Life as a Musician

I’ve received so many heart-felt messages from her piano students.  She was a great mentor and friend to all that she taught over the past few years.

I’ve also been finding out more about her life as a musician over the past week or so.  I can‘t believe that such a gifted woman was so modest about her talents:

Penelope on tour with Stiff Little Fingers

Penelope playing keyboards with the Eurythmics

One of her friends, LA Bruce, has also mentioned that “We met in the 80s in NYC when she came to study piano with Joanne Brackeen. We discussed her rock life extensively – as if it were another lifetime.”

She lived in New York for some time and wrote and recorded some amazing jazz.  We’re trying to find some recordings so we can share this.  Jazz was her real passion and she continued to play jazz in New York as part of a trio, at Ronnie Scott’s in London and many other places.


Thank you, Penelope for being a small part of my life, you will be sorely missed.

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