By Stephanie Nimmo, author of Was This in the Plan? published by Hashtag Press (£12.99, memoir, September 2017)

Stephanie Nimmo

Stephanie Nimmo

My life has taken some pretty dramatic turns over the years. From the birth, just over 12 years ago, of my fourth child, diagnosed with a rare, life limiting genetic condition. To being told my husband Andy had terminal cancer just in 2014.

As I struggled to care for my disabled child, support my husband through chemo and be a mum to our three other children, music helped me through. This has become even more important as our family of six has now become a family of four and we face a new future.

Andy and I first bonded as we poured over the music selections on a juke box in a pub. We both had a very eclectic and varied musical taste and that’s what drew me to him in the first place.


Our first gig together was David Bowie in Milton Keyes in 1990. I had loved Bowie since my early teens. Before he came on stage he played “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven, two years later Andy and I walked down the aisle to that music.

Foo Fighters

Andy had trained as an actor and spent a lot of time on the road touring in theatre productions or as a rep in some far-off location. He spent six months in the Lake District and as I was working full time in London I could only manage the trip to see him once a month. During one of those visits he handed me a CD; “Listen to this” he said. It was the first Foo Fighters album. We had both loved Nirvana and had been devastated when Kurt Cobain died. Now, listening to this album, we had a new sound to follow and a lifelong love began. When Andy was dying of cancer I managed to arrange for him to meet his hero Dave Grohl. former drummer with Nirvana, lead singer of the Foo Fighters. They say you should never meet your heroes, that you will be disappointed. Not in this case. Dave was the nicest man in the world.

At Andy’s memorial we played “Times like these” – they lyrics seemed so appropriate for how we were all feeling. Those words “I’m a new day rising, I’m a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight” have kept me going during many dark days.

Fat Boy Slim

We made sure our children had a proper musical education, that they didn’t just follow the crowd! When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter Xanthe I played Fat Boy Slim’s album “You’ve come a long way” all the time and it clearly influenced her, when she cried I would just put “Praise you” on and it would soothe her immediately!


When our youngest daughter Daisy was born it was Christmas time. I have so many memories of sitting in the neonatal unit with the nurse’s radio playing endless Christmas hits while I tried to get my head around the fact that I had a disabled child. A few months later, Athlete released the song “Wires” and it became an anthem for me and for all the parents of babies born too soon and born poorly like Daisy.


Daisy spent so much of her life in hospital and over the years music got us through those times. Once when we were in Great Ormond Street we saw Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of Pulp, chatting to some friends in a nearby street. Andy and I had loved Pulp and their music was the soundtrack to our last holiday before we became parents. We were too star-struck to say hello!

Paul Carack

When Andy was diagnosed with terminal cancer he had a goal of being stable enough to make our annual trip to Glastonbury. We made it and I have a very poignant video of him singing along to Paul Carack playing his hit “Looking back over my shoulder”. The bit where he sings the line “I never wanted to say goodbye” gets me every time.

Bowie again

Music was a huge part of Andy’s funeral, we spent a very funny, bittersweet evening a few weeks before he died planning what music he wanted played at his send off. I had to veto a couple of his choices! The very last song we played was Bowie’s Starman, it was so appropriate. A week later Bowie died and it was like a double blow, it’s very tough to listen to his final single “Lazarus”, there are too many parallels with Andy’s death from cancer.

Eva Cassidy

Just over a year after losing Andy, our little girl Daisy died. It was unimaginable and so hard for her siblings and I to face, so soon after losing Andy. Once again, music was an important part of the funeral and Eva Cassidy’s Songbird was the perfect choice to bring her coffin in, it was a song I sang to her when she was alive.

The Clash

In the space of a year our family has gone from six to four. There are two huge gaping holes where Andy and Daisy once were. Music has got us through this time. After Andy died I bought a turntable and we have been building our vinyl record collection and I’ve been introducing my teenagers to some of my favourites. We’ve listened to some of their Dad’s old Clash albums together and they were really impressed to hear that he had seen them seven times when he was a teenager!

First Aid Kit

A few years ago at Glastonbury I saw one of the early performances of the Swedish duo “First Aid Kit”. I’ve seen them a few times since and their song Silver Lining has become a bit of an anthem for this new life that I find myself in. It’s really important that I keep moving forward and looking for my silver lining in this new chapter of my life.