Framlingham: Home town celebrates Sheeran’s star turn

ONE day you’re gigging in front of a dozen people in a Suffolk pub, the next you’re performing for an audience of millions alongside the biggest names in pop music.

So stratospheric has been the rise to fame of Framlingham singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran that people might attribute it to chance or good fortune.

But the 21-year-old BRIT award-winner’s successes - which now include hitting number five in the US Billboard charts with his latest album - have been largely down to hard work and determination.

Like the many athletes who sang along to his cover of Pink Floyd’s 1975 classic Wish You Were Here, Ed has reached the top of his game through relentless preparation.

So says his former music teacher at Thomas Mills High School, Richard Hanley, who modestly claims only a small part in Ed’s ascendance despite being considered an inspiration by the singer. Mr Hanley, the schools director of music since 1989, added: “We gave him the space to develop his talent and the opportunity to perform in various school concerts and musicals.

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“Hearing the Olympic athletes talk about hard work and graft reminds me that Ed has done the same thing by taking every opportunity to play as many gigs as he could. Obviously it paid off.

“I have never encountered anyone with such determination to really make it. He clearly has the talent but he also has that determination.”

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Oddly enough, the school still has a photo of Ed with five-time gold medallist Steve Redgrave when he visited the school several years ago - but on Sunday night it was the Suffolk singer’s turn to entertain the athletes, as well as an 80,000-strong live crowd and a world-wide television audience, for the closing ceremony of London 2012.

Mr Hanley, who recently spotted a copy of Ed’s sheet music while browsing a shop in York, said of his closing ceremony performance: “It was quite surreal seeing him up there. We keep press cuttings and have his photo pinned to the music department notice board.

“It’s incredible to think he was playing pubs in Framlingham and Ipswich just a few years ago - and now he’s a global star. You have to pinch yourself.”

Ed’s hard work began to pay off in 2009, when he played a reported 312 gigs, before supporting British singer and rapper Example on tour.

He was soon picked up by major label Atlantic Records and last January opted to sign the contract in his home town - choosing Framlingham’s Station Hotel as the place to do the deal. A year later he would return to the pub to celebrate his 21st birthday party, laid on by landlady Resa, who said: “It’s amazing to see him right at the very top. He used to come into the pub, and signed his record deal here with his manager, lawyer and a label executive.

“He’s a very sweet boy and fame hasn’t gone to his head. He’s very talented and has a style of music that is different and refreshing.”

Ed joined some of the biggest names in British pop for the Olympic closing ceremony, including Take That, the Spice Girls, Madness and Queen. It was all a far cry his days as an unsigned artist gigging almost nightly in the hope of being spotted.

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