Hearing-impaired boy's Chetham's music scholarship

A cleaner whose hearing-impaired son has won a scholarship to a leading music school has said she will "never regret" her early financial sacrifices.

Callum Hilton, eight, won a place at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester after tutors heard him play the piano and cello at one of its summer schools.

His mother Tracy said she grew her own food and accepted charity clothes after taking out a £2,000 loan.

She used it to buy Callum a piano when, aged four, he taught himself to play.

Callum, from Denton, began playing on a donated electric organ before he reached school age after listening to classical music CDs, which his mother played to him to help his learning development.

His hearing has improved slightly since the insertion of grommets in his ears when he was four.

He will take up his £30,000-a-year place as a boarder at the school in September.

Callum said when he heard the news he was "absolutely happy - proud".

'Exciting musician'

Ms Hilton, a lone parent, who has home-educated Callum for periods, said: "As time went by he kept on getting better, but I was surprised when he asked me for a piano and he wanted a proper one like they have at church.

"This is the bit that started to worry me because I knew he wanted to play classical music properly, but I had no money and I knew I needed put myself into debt to let him and I just thought well as he shows interest I'll give it a go.

"I couldn't afford the lessons, but I knew he could pick tunes up and play them back, so I started to invest in books.

"We have lived hand-to-mouth, but I will never regret it."

Murray McLachlan, head of keyboard at Chetham's said: "Callum in an extremely exciting musician.

"When you meet him first he is a quiet and normal eight year old, but as soon as he sits down at the piano and begins to play, his face physically changes with concentration and focus, and he becomes a natural, intense and involved musician.

"He is able to communicate as a performer on both piano and cello.

"His playing always makes you want to listen - a real hallmark of a true musician."

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