Rock on, Paul!
LOCAL writer and teacher Paul Balmer is to receive a special national award for his work with the youth music group, The Oakley Rangers.
The BBC Music Day’s Unsung Hero Award for Corby’s Paul Balmer was announced today, Thursday, by DJ Steve Wright on his Radio 2 show.
Paul is one of just five UK recipients of the BBC Music’s inaugural Unsung Hero Award for work in their community with music. The award was launched as part of today’s first-ever BBC Music Day – a nationwide celebration of music aiming to bring people together across communities and generations through their love of music.
Every Saturday afternoon for the past seven years, Paul has run a free youth music group from Corby’s Connoughty Centre, aiming to channel young people’s enthusiasm and energy into creative music.
The group, called ‘The Oakley Rangers’ receive free ‘rock school’ style music lessons in exchange for regular community service. Over the years, Paul has taught more than 100 young people with many going on to pursue careers in music.
BBC Music Day’s Unsung Hero has been a UK-wide search for individuals who have made or are continuing to make a big contribution to their community through music. People around the country were asked to nominate someone who has had a significant impact in their community in this way.
Paul said he was thrilled with the achievement: “I’m delighted to have won the Unsung Hero Award. Our music group has been going for almost eight years now and we’ve had a hundred talented young people through our doors. It’s fantastic.
“I launched this music group because of the growing number of complaints about young people in the area. I saw an opportunity to do something constructive with them so I took it. It’s worked really well. Not only do the kids get to do something they are passionate about, but they also pay back to the community by litter picking, planting trees and playing concerts for local charities.”
Bob Shennan, director of BBC Music, said: “Honouring music’s Unsung Heroes is a core part of what BBC Music Day is about, celebrating people, like Paul, who make a big contribution to their community through music. Paul is clearly a person who inspires and gives confidence to young people; nothing appears to be too much trouble. He has been the driving force behind the Oakley Rangers.”
From all the nominations, a BBC panel compiled a shortlist from which the five winners were chosen. They will receive a BBC Music VIP Pass, giving them and their friends tickets to a BBC Music event from a selection which includes the BBC Proms In The Park, Radio 2 Live In Hyde Park and BBC Music Awards.
Winners have also been invited to Glasgow today (Friday) to be in the audience of The One Show, live from the BBC Music Day celebrations at Pacific Quay. Later this evening at Glasgow City Halls they will be guests of honour for Radio 2’s ‘Friday Night is BBC Music Night’.
Pictured above – MUSIC LOVER REWARDED: Paul Balmer rocks with Oakley Ranger Karl.