Corby’s Utterly Butterly tub ukulele idea spreads across UK

Utterly Butterly Ukulele band at Our Lady's School, Corby
Utterly Butterly Ukulele band at Our Lady's School, Corby

A music project which started in Corby has turned into a national phenomenon and even caught the eye of Prince Charles.

The Utterly Butterly Ukulele Project was launched in May 2009 by Steve Nutter, former arts development officer for Corby Council, who held a workshop where families learned how to make their own instruments.

People in the town learned how to make a ukulele from an empty Utterly Butterly tub and in October that year there was a huge jam session in Willow Place.

Since then the project has grown and there are now 18,000 tub ukuleles in the UK, with schools and organisations all over the country joining the craze.

On Friday, Steve, a musician and composer, Nick Penny, an instrument-maker, and teacher Simon Ferraby, who make up the original Utterly Butterly Ukulele Project team, returned to Corby to help pupils at Our Lady’s Primary School make instruments.

Steve said: “It was a great workshop involving 90 pupils and at the end we gave a concert for the rest of the school.

“Since the project started in Corby, we’ve been amazed at its success.

“We’ve held workshops from Cornwall to Falkirk, for schools, at team-building corporate events and festivals, as well as sessions for the elderly and teenagers.

“The tub ukulele seems to have universal appeal and people are delighted when they discover they actually work and they can play a tune.”

Utterly Butterly’s parent company Dairy Crest provides the project with unused reject tubs and funding.

When the company opened a new creamery in Cornwall in 2011, Prince Charles attended and was treated to a recital by Utterly Butterly tub ukulele players before trying one out.

Steve said: “He was really impressed.”

The Utterly Butterly Ukulele Project will be at an agricultural show for children at the East of England Showground in Peterborough on July 11.

Schools interested in taking part can email Steve at for details.