Music teacher Ben Thomas is giving up his job to concentrate full-time on his role as a drummer with Uckfield’s Rag ‘n’ Bone Man.
The former Uckfield Community Technology College student, now aged 30, is joining his former schoolmate Rory Graham who is achieving chart success as the Rag ‘n’ Bone man.
Ben, originally from Buxted but now living in Brighton learned to drum with East Sussex Music from the age of 11 and has been a teacher for nine years.
He said: “It’s going to be difficult to leave it behind because I’ve been with some of the kids from primary school through to sixth form, but you have to take these opportunities when they come along.
“I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been inspiring, especially when you see a student come in the next day and they’ve done what you asked them to do and put the extra work in.
“I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but the kids have found out about what I’m doing and they’re really excited – it’s nice to show them what’s possible if you work hard enough.”
Rag ‘n’ Bone Man Rory began his musical journey as a rapper before finding success with his blend of blues, eletro-soul and hip-hop.
He topped the charts across Europe last year with his hit single Human, and his album of the same name was released last week, coinciding with a flurry of media interest, including an appearance on the Graham Norton Show.
Ben said: “With someone as talented as Rory, I always knew it’s something that had legs, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the way it’s exploded recently.
“Although the scenery has changed I’m still basically just playing the drums. You can’t let it get on top of you too much and everyone in the band is really grounded.”
Lucy Morgan-Jones, head of East Sussex Music, said: “We’re really sad to lose Ben from our teaching staff but we and all the students are really excited and thrilled that he’s able to take up this fantastic opportunity.
“Hopefully he will act as an inspiration to the students, as someone who started off having music lessons with us, became a music teacher himself and is now enjoying such success.”
More information about East Sussex Music is available at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/music