A MUSIC teacher who has inspired people with learning disabilities to perform at the Royal Albert Hall and London Palladium has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

David Stanley, from Southend, has been honoured for his services to people with special needs through the highly successful Music Man Project.

The project teaches children and adults with learning disabilities how to play musical instruments, allowing them to perform on some of the country’s biggest stages.

Now, David has been named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honour list.

Speaking about his award, Mr Stanley said: “I’m very excited. It’s a huge honour. I’ve been working with people with learning disabilities for more than 20 years now so it’s really nice to get that quite official recognition of all that work.

“I find that honours like this are really motivating and encouraging and all this will do is inspire me to work harder on behalf of children and adults with learning disabilities.”

Having performed at the London Palladium and the Royal Albert Hall last year, David now has his eyes set on his students performing in New York.

He said: “Our next dream is to perform on Broadway and do a New York concert tour with musicians with learning disabilities. That would be a lovely next step following our Albert Hall success.

“It’s a really important message that I want to get across that it’s nice to be commended for this hard work but the main point for me is that it’ll open up doors for me to do more and create more opportunities for people with learning disabilities.”

Mr Stanley has been working with people with learning disabilities for more than 20 years. In 2012 he established the Music Man Project which became its own charity earlier this year.

He has since travelled to other countries across the world, educating communities on the work he does and helping them set up similar schemes.

He said: “I think one of the reasons I was recommended for this was because I’ve helped other people set up a Music Man Project across the UK and I’ve also been to India, Nepal, South Africa, Philippines and America trying to show them how I do it and establish a Music Man Project in those countries.

“I hoped for a performance at the Royal Albert Hall but duplicating it around the country and going to these countries around the world, that was in my wildest dreams.”