SHAPE is set to lose one of its most popular volunteers, reports Debbie Fallaha, Youth and Community Development Worker at HQ Global Support Organisation.

Craig Mulvihill has served with the Royal Marines and the army for 37 years, in positions ranging from rifleman to lieutenant colonel and will leave the forces this year.

His interest in the forces was sparked at age 14 when he was an Air Cadet. He says: “I had a fantastic adult training team and thoroughly enjoyed it.”

As an adjutant, he saw the amazing work being done by volunteers, helping out at events such as ski trips, summer camps and family days.

Seeing this work and how he was helped in the Air Cadets resonated with Craig. During the pandemic he turned his interest in music into a hobby, DJing, which he says was “….my daughter’s advice, not my own choice!”

As his skills progressed, and restrictions began to lift, he attended a beginners’ course at the London Sound Academy in Camden, which gave him the idea of passing on his knowledge to young people.

He initially brought his own equipment to sessions for young people to learn and practise on, which gave them the skills to play short sets in front of audiences at events where Craig was the hired DJ – mainly mess functions. From there, they gained confidence to go on to play at bigger events to audiences of up to 500.

He has raised thousands of euros by playing at military events and local functions for free – asking only for donations. These donations have enabled him to buy a full set of equipment that the young people of SHAPE can use, meaning they can practise as often as they like.

Feedback from parents who have seen confidence levels rise in their children has been very positive.

Bram Verhoeff, whose son Boaz has been going to the sessions, said, “We love this talent development – it’s not a thing every child does or every parent would pick for their child to do, like football or tennis. But Boaz loves rhythm, music and being creative. This is a hobby he picked and we fully support! He loves to do it, and after a few sessions he had enough talent for the DJ instructor to put him in front of an audience, on a stage! Although still shy in the beginning, that is a real confidence booster!”

Boaz said, “I’m very proud of the progress I’ve made in a short time – it was surprisingly easy for me to pick it up, as I was making my own tunes with an app when I was seven.”

Martin Saw said about his son: “DJing has provided Stephen a platform to learn, and express himself, adding valuable life skills while building confidence with every performance. Many thanks to Craig and the team for providing a stimulating and alternative art for the young people of the SHAPE community to enjoy and progress.”

Stephen said, “I had never thought about DJing until Craig saw I was bored at Britfete and asked if I would like a go. Soon I joined the lessons and even got my own DJ equipment. The sessions were fun as it didn’t matter if you made mistakes. I was lucky enough to DJ at multiple events, including Eurovision. Although nervous beforehand, the actual DJing was really fun and I came away feeling very proud of myself.”

When asked about the positives of volunteering with young people, Craig says: “I would recommend families look at giving some of their free time to something like this, as it is really rewarding and fun to see them develop and tap into a creative side in their persona, that otherwise may never have been found.”

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