Macclesfield singing phone salesman takes on cyber bullies with fund-raising concert

A mobile phone salesman at Macclesfield’s Grosvenor Centre, who was tormented by bullies at high school, will be singing his heart out tonight at a concert to raise awareness about cyber bullying.

Paul Capper, who works at Phones 4 U at the centre, had no hesitation in accepting when asked to perform at the concert, one of a number of events around Europe this spring to highlight the increasing problem of bullying via the internet, social media and phone text messages.

The cause has a personal significance after Paul was persecuted by bullies over two years while at school.

“That was when the likes of Facebook and Twitter weren’t around, but I know what it feels like to be cruelly intimidated,” said Paul, now 25, who was forced to give away his school dinner money to thugs.

He said: “In many ways cyber-bullying is even worse because these are faceless tormentors who hide behind digital technology, unseen. It’s insidious and can make the lives of innocent schoolchildren a misery, but it’s not just younger ages affected, older teenagers and adults are also among the victims.

“It’s wicked and has got to be stamped out,” added Paul, who devotes as much spare time as he can to music when not doing his day job as a sales consultant at Phones 4U store in the Grosvenor Centre.

Caroline Kirton-Darling from the Grosvenor Centre said: “Paul is taking an admirable stance over the issue of cyber bulling. I like to wish Paul every success with this concert, and with his other musical activities later this year.

“I’m always fascinated by the many different interest of the staff who work here at the Grosvenor Centre, it’s why there’s such a great community spirit here.”

At the concert on May 9 at Winsford Academy, Paul will deliver the emotional number This Is The Moment from hit musical Jekyll and Hyde, followed by Puccini‘s Nessum Dorma from Turandot.

He said: “This Is The Moment is a real stirring song. When I sing the line about sending  all doubts and demons on their way it means a lot to me and I hope it will help people overcome their demons too.

“I will come on stage, very shyly,  with projected comments on my Facebook and Twitter pages behind me, showing messages like “You are rubbish, you should never be on stage!” during the first song.

“Then at the end of the song the images will go away and I will come to the front of the stage in just one spotlight and I will do Sweet Transvestite from the Rocky Horror Show, which is kind of like a breaking out of my shell moment. I will have the costume underneath and then there’s a complete juxtaposition when I sing Nessun Dorma to finish of the set. I’m hoping it goes down well.”

Today Paul offers an example of how people can successfully triumph over bullies. Before joining Phones 4U last October, he was an entertainer with Park Resorts at its venues in Scotland, Cumbria and South Wales. Earlier this month he performed live on Radio Canalside.

“That was great fun. One of our customers who came in the shop had connections with the station and my colleague was talking to them about some of the charity performances I do. Next minute I was there in the studio.

“I sang Music Of The Night from Phantom of the Opera. It was nerve-wracking but I really enjoyed it,” said Paul, a keen supporter of local charities, including Age Concern. He often does concerts at local residential homes, sometimes taking requests.

He started his musical training at school, unusually playing the tuba, the largest and lowest pitched of the brass instruments.

He said: “Our teacher gathered together a group of pupils and asked us all to try out various brass instruments so he could judge who would be best at playing what. It turned out I was the only one who could get a sound out of a rusty dented old  tuba, so I took up lessons on that and played it for years. I reached grade eight and performed with concert bands around Cheshire.”

It was not until high school he discovered he could sing.

“I was taking the mickey out of opera singers one day and started to sing a song made up in my head about a maths teacher going out in the snow. The music teacher heard me and said I hadn’t got a bad voice and should take up lessons. I don’t know where it came from, no one else in my family is the slightest bit musical,” said Paul, whose mum, Judy, lives in Northwich and dad, David, lives in London. He has an older sister, Laura, 29.

He is delighted that he has several concert dates booked for this year, including performing the National Anthem for the Mayor of Winsford at the annual Bun Fair in September.

“The Mayor hasn‘t heard me sing before but she heard about me from a friend and asked me to perform.  It‘s quite an honour, so I‘m very nervous about it, especially as there will be lots of dignitaries there. But I‘ve also got to learn the second verse of the National Anthem which I didn‘t know the words for until now,”  he laughed.

On September 20 and 21 he will also perform at Winsford Salt Fair.

“I’ll be doing half an hour on the Saturday night, for a younger age audience, then on the Sunday I’ll do another half hour, this time of music for the more mature ages,” said Paul who rehearses every week at the Band Edge Resurrected premises in Winsford.

“It’s a great place, they have a basement where I can sing to my heart’s content,” he said. “If I tried practising at home I think I’d get thrown out.”

Paul grew up in Northwich, attending Cuddington Primary School and Weaverham High School, before going on to graduate with a degree in Performance and Events Management from Cumbria University in Carlisle.

On returning to Cheshire he moved to Macclesfield where he had many friends from his days in the local Scouts.

“I love it here in Macc,” he said. “It’s a great community and since I’ve worked in Grosvenor Shopping Precinct I’ve had lots of support from Phones 4U. They’ve been really good at supporting my charity performances and helping get my name out there. I can’t thank them enough.”

He is now toying with the idea of entering television’s Britain’s Got Talent competition, but wants to get some more performing experience first.

“I think I need to sing in front of bigger audiences before I put myself through the auditions for that,” he said. “So I’m looking to get on stage as much as possible over the coming months. Bring it on!”

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