Music has an amazing ability to touch people in so many ways. It can make you sing, it can make you dance, it can make you happy or sad, and it can take you back in time to when you first heard a song or remind you of certain people in your life. It can also be the source of great inspiration and motivation. Music inspired John Shaw to not only battle back from a severe disability but also motivated him to share the joy with his local community.

A self-confessed workaholic, John had grafted all his life, and had owned three garages and two hotels, when he was told that his spine had worn out and he wasn’t fit to work again. If that wasn’t bad enough, things took a turn for the worse in 2002 when he collapsed in pain while walking his dog in the park. He was rushed to hospital and was operated on to partly remove three and five discs from his severely damaged back. The doctors told him that he would never walk again, and he spent the next eight months in a wheelchair. His world was shattered. Rather than sit about feeling depressed about his disability, John resolved to make positive use of his time and decided to learn to play a musical instrument. He enrolled at Blackpool College and began to learn how to play the keyboard. Sadly, the next year, the college decided that they weren’t going to continue with the music courses and John was left deflated again. John was determined to overcome this latest setback and by now the music bug had bitten him. Encouraged by the positive impact the course had had on his rehabilitation, John had his eureka moment. Why not start up a music school himself for disabled people and give them the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument at a minimal cost? Why not help bring some happiness to lives through music and help enhance their convalescence as well as their social life? He sought initial guidance from the CVS who advised him to form a committee and a constitution to enable him to apply for funding. With the help of a local bid writer, John secured grants from Blackpool Council and the National Lottery and his dream was starting to become a reality.


By January 2006 the music academy was born. With media help from The Gazette and others doing the first story it opened its doors at the Springfield Methodist Church on Bispham Road. Under the tutelage of retired college teacher, Jim Lomas, the academy soon grew from 22 students to 50 students in six months.  Private tutor and music shop owner Steven Austin also a music examiner came on board to help as the demand increased. In 2007 the academy became a registered company Blackpool Music Academy  Community Interest Company Ltd by Guarantee Within a year, John decided he wanted to enrol younger students to gain the benefits of his group sessions. He recruited Tom Vernon as a specialist tutor for students aged seven to 16 years of age and attracted over 80 youngsters for his affordable musical classes.


By September 2008 Blackpool Music School was born becoming a registered charity and this helped in acquiring future funding for the community and the BMACIC became the trading arm for the charity By 2009, Phil Roberts had come on board and was putting the younger students through examinations to gain the Rock School qualification. A year later he was joined by Julie Jackson to look after the accounts and general administration. Tragedy struck in May 2011 when Phil died of leukaemia.

Such was Phil’s dedication to the academy, he was still teaching his students two days up to his death. Always looking to improve and develop, John decided to relocate the BMACIC to its own premises and with the help of Roy White and the social enterprise loan fund, took possession of a former insurance brokers on Waterloo Road, South Shore.

The premises were derelict and required a lot of work to bring it up to scratch inside and out as well as a total refit. It also needed work to comply with Health and Safety and fire regulations. The building costs would be enormous and so with finances stretched to the limit, John decided to make some phone calls to seek some free legal advice about the mortgage.He phoned more than 20 solicitors and one after another declined to help or simply return his call until he got a positive response from Banks Carrington Solicitors on Edward St in Blackpool town centre. Not only did they give John the free advice he was seeking but also helped him set up the mortgage agreement and waived the legal fees. Boosted by this act of generosity, John went on a mission to approach local businesses to appeal for any products, materials and labour to help transform his new premises into an academy to be proud of.

Undeterred and unfazed, John walked straight into various businesses and respectfully asked for any contribution, small or large, to help his good cause. To his amazement, 48 local businesses generously donated to John’s academy at cost only or completely free of charge to the tune of approximately £45,000! On the back of this overwhelming support from the local business community, the Blackpool Music Academy CIC along with the Blackpool music school (charity) opened its doors at the Waterloo Road site in June 2012. Included in the academy’s building hosts is a conference room with projector, stair lift, disabled toilet and Phil’s Coffee Shop dedicated to the BMS’s deceased former tutor who helped so much in making the school the success that it is today.


Music was an inspiration to John Shaw, and he should be an inspiration to us all. Blackpool Music School tutors are highly qualified music professionals. They have different teaching styles but all are delivered in a very friendly way, making it the perfect place to learn an instrument. The Blackpool Music School hosts 90 Students aged from 7 to 97 years having 8 fully qualified musicians/ tutors securing teaching in the Waterloo Road Academy helping the community in learning a new skill the school compliments itself by having a 100% pass rate in all exam qualifications. You don’t have to take examinations it is also a pleasure activity a therapy meeting others of the community making friends we make it affordable to all, have a singalong in Phil’s coffee shop every Thursday starts at 1.30 to 3pm.


If you require any more information ether call at 420 waterloo road or go to our website Blackpool Music School offer affordable music tuition for any age from eight years. upwards. They provide a variety of different music including keyboard, saxophone, drums, banjo, singing lessons, music theory, guitar and many more…


The school offer group sessions and one-one sessions at the School, as well as one to one sessions in your own home if you are disabled and unable to get to them. John says the school endeavour to keep their costs minimal allowing them to offer value-for money tuition, for those on low incomes, those disabled, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, children excluded from full time education and children who unable to cope with busy classrooms.


Their friendly, calm environments make it perfect for learning in an informal way, allowing students to embrace all the advantages and therapy of music.