A hearing-imparied 13-year-old has been wowing residents in Lancing and Shoreham with his violin playing as he tries to raise funds for a memorial bench.
Matthew English was left devastated after close family friend Vic Hilton, who was a ‘mentor and best buddy’ to him, died the day before his birthday just a few weeks ago.
Matthew decided to fundraise for a bench dedicated to Vic on Lancing seafront. He said: “It will mean so much to me.”
In just two weekends, Matthew’s busking has already raised nearly £300. He has been performing songs including Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton.
He said: “It was quite nerve-wracking at the start. I didn’t know how it was going to be.
“It was a big success on the first day and has just got bigger from there. People reacted really well, they loved it. It was quite emotional for me because of why I was doing it."
A member from the Lancing and Sompting Lions was so impressed with Matthew that he promised the Lions would match whatever he raised.
Matthew first picked up the violin in 2012 thanks to the charity Hearing Fund UK, which supports young people who are deaf or have hearing difficulties to play instruments, and learned to play using vibrations from the violin.
He had always been encouraged to play music by Vic and Janice, Matthew’s mother, said: “Vic would have been very proud to see him out there playing, having the confidence to do that.”
Janice met Vic when she was 16 when he was her tutor at art college. The two had been friends for 35 years and Janice said Vic was like a grandfather to Matthew.
The three spent a lot of time together at a family bungalow in Grand Avenue, Lancing, which they used as a holiday home.
She and Matthew had planned to move there permanently but flooding damage caused by a burst pipe has left them sofa surfing until the repairs are complete.
It was in Lancing that Vic taught Matthew how to ride a bike, despite doctors warnings that problems with Matthew’s ears would mean he would never be able to cycle, and the pair loved cycling along the coast between Shoreham and Lancing together.
Janice said she was ‘very proud’ that Matthew was using his music in such a positive way.
“It gives him something to focus on in his grief,” she said. “It doesn’t bring back our friend, but we have to find ways to remember him.”
For more videos of Matthew playing the violin, click here.