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Striking a chord for our teacher; Pupils launch online campaign.

Byline: RUTH LAWSON

ANGRY pupils have launched an online campaign to save an inspirational music teacher from the axe.

Experienced trumpet player Dave Hignett has taught hundreds of young musicians since he began working for Northumberland Centre for Creative and Performing Arts in 1990.

But recent management restructuring within the service will result in Dave's role as a team leader becoming cut in the next few months.

One of his pupils, Tom Knapton, set about starting a Facebook page to draw attention to Dave's situation so pupils, past and present, could lend their support to the campaign.

So far more than 600 people have joined the group leaving hundreds of messages of support.

Tom's dad, Dr John Knapton, of Stocksfield, Northumberland, was eager to back the campaign as he fears teaching standards may slip in the wake of Dave's departure from the service. The GP said: "My son is getting trumpet lessons from Dave and has done so since he started middle school.

"I assumed he would be able to have Dave as a teacher and mentor until he left school."

But now Tom, who goes to Queen Elizabeth High School, in Hexham, and scores of other students are facing a future without the inspirational teacher.

Dr Knapton added: "Dave is one of those special guys who has a special way with kids because they respect him and he brings out the best in them.

"In terms of teaching he has very unique methods. He's a very accomplished musician but he also has an easy way with the kids."

A group of parents have now lodged a formal objection with Northumberland County Council about the restructuring that has caused Dave's imminent redundancy. The future of the numerous youth bands and jazz orchestras that Dave conducts is also uncertain as a result of the decision.

Former student Sarah Kilby is adamant that his loss will have a massive effect on the future of brass and student orchestras in Northumberland.

The 20-year-old, of Hexham, said: "Dave is truly one of the most inspirational people I have ever met."

Sarah, who is currently studying at Cardiff University, added: "I genuinely believe there is no one out there who can replace Dave, or be anywhere near the inspirational teacher that he has been and should continue to be."

An online petition on the council's website had now gone live and people have until March 31 to lend their support to the campaign.

To sign the petition log on to http://bit.ly/fChAT6

CAPTION(S):

IN TUNE David Lamb, Joseph Mainwaring, Dr John Knapton, Tom Knapton, Steve Quilliam, Matthew Lamb and Adrian Rees are backing Dave Hignett
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2011
Words:443
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