Corby music teacher wins BBC Unsung Hero Award

Paul Balmer performs with Oakley Ranger Karl
Paul Balmer performs with Oakley Ranger Karl

A writer and music teacher from Oakley Vale is to receive a BBC Music Day Unsung Hero Award.

Paul Balmer, who is also the Northants Telegraph’s Down Your Way correspondent for Oakley Vale, is one of five recipients of BBC Music’s inaugural Unsung Hero Award for work in their community with music.

I saw an opportunity to do something constructive so I took it.

Paul Balmer

Every Saturday for the past seven years Paul has run a free youth music group at the Oakley Vale Community Centre in an effort 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 the music field.

Paul said: “I’m delighted to have won the Unsung Hero Award. 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.”

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.

All five recipients are invited to Glasgow on Friday, June 5, to be in the audience of The One Show which is coming live from the BBC Music Day celebrations at Pacific Quay.

And later that evening at Glasgow City Halls they will be guests of honour in the audience for Radio 2’s Friday Night is BBC Music Night, a special gala concert featuring the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Lulu, Deacon Blue, jazz pianist Jamie Cullum, tenor Noah Stewart, violinist Jack Liebeck, Bhangra artist Jaz Dhami, Scottish folk star Claire Hastings and harpist Catrin Finch.

Director of BBC Music, Bob Shennan, 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 for the past seven years.”