The very first ‘Trafford Spotlight’ is shining a light on a wonderful man who has spent his whole career, as an art teacher, right here in Trafford. He is also a man I am very proud to call my friend. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Mr Kevin (Elvis) Murphy.
I asked Kevin how he got into teaching art and here is what he had to say.
“I attended the Carlisle College of Art and Design; from there I went on to graduate from Edinburgh College of Art before gaining my teacher diploma in art at MMU. I think teaching is a very worthwhile career, encouraging young people’s talent and I got great job satisfaction from it. The vast majority of my students became good men. Wellacre was my first teaching job, straight from Uni, in fact before breaking up for the summer I secured a job at Wellacre. So, I went literally from my course to teaching”.
“I’d never heard of Flixton, but it looked a nice area, and I took the job, it was a very good choice. Wellacre had good staff and although boys will be boys and can be challenging at times, on the whole, they were good lads. So, I stayed my whole career at Wellacre, I held the positions of Head of year and Head of the art and design department during my time at the school”.
I asked him about life outside of the school.
“I also introduced some extracurricular activities for the Wellacre lads, weight training and I also instructed boxing. It was a great way to channel their energy and keep them out of trouble. Any lads who showed potential in boxing I advised to go Barton Athletic Club in Eccles, where I was a qualified ABA coach. Quite a few took my advice and became good boxers, Wayne Devlin being one of them! Good reach and nice left jab!”
Kevin is known locally in Urmston as Elvis Murphy, as he performs the songs of Elvis Presley at various open mic nights. I asked him how he got into the music scene, here’s what he said.
“I came into singing by accident, I’ve always loved music. I listened to the early rock and rollers like Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis but especially Elvis Presley. I also enjoyed bands like The Small Faces, The Who and Bowie etc”.
“A Wellacre year 9 class were being a bit naughty, so I just started singing Elvis Presley, one for the money… they all shut up and listened, two for the show… they clapped. I told them that if they’re all quiet and behave, they’ll get another song at end of the lesson, and they did! Ex pupils will remember my rhymes too. If you talk, you walk. If you peck, you trek, if you make a fuss, you miss your bus. If a lad said that it’s against the law to be kept behind, I reminded him that if he was in my art room he was under Murphy’s law!”
“So I was in JP’s night club one night and the manageress asked me if I’d sing at her Cancer Research charity event, I told her that I wasn’t a singer and she replied, ‘but my son told me you sing at school’ and he told her I could do Elvis. So, I tried karaoke, I was nervous, terrified even, but I did a song and the small audience clapped! So I did the Cancer Research gig and it went well. I was then invited to a jam night, then a few weeks later I was asked if I had a band, as there was a gig for me at Flixton football club. I asked a local band called Joe and the Underdogs to accompany me and did the gig. About twelve years ago I also did some gigs with Wayne Devlin my ex pupil and close friend”.
I remember meeting Kevin again, as an adult, in the Melville pub in Stretford and we struck up a friendship. I always enjoyed his art lessons at Wellacre and he helped instil my love of art that I still have to this day. I’m very grateful to him for teaching me not just art but also boxing and for his loyal friendship. If Kevin is your friend then you have a friend for life. In fact, when choosing my best man at my wedding I thought who better than my ex teacher, my good friend and the person I knew would do me proud in the role and he really did.
Kevin and I also share a passion for charity work so I asked him a bit about that. He said.
“At Wellacre I did several charity assemblies and when I, as I call it, graduated from Wellacre, I invited Wayne to sing and along with other bands and we raised a large amount of money for Wellacre’s charity Afri-twin”.
In 2014 Kev was awarded one of the 40 faces of Trafford by Trafford borough council at a ceremony at the town hall. He was presented his award by the Mayor at the time Cllr John Holden. He was awarded for his contribution to the teaching profession. He is also the recipient of the Pride of Urmston Award.
Kevin says “You have good fortune in life and I think I was very fortunate that my first job in education was in Flixton at Wellacre Academy. I love living in Urmston. I enjoy how the town seems to be growing, there’s a good buzz, it has the nicest people in the world who are open minded, they live and let live, there’s no bigotry, no bias and everyone gets on. I love my home city Carlisle but love Urmston too!”
“There are nice people everywhere. I love four cities; Carlisle and Edinburgh where I studied, Manchester where I live and Kilkenny in Ireland which is my dad’s home town. They’re all places I’ve been involved with, and are very different but all wonderful. Actually, I love Liverpool too, I’ve sung there, in the famous Cavern where I was backed by a band called the Jailbirds, vocalist and bass was Drew Palmer, lead guitarist Sam Gorton, both ex Wellacre students and the drummer Duncan Crighton, was a former Urmston grammar student”.
To finish I asked Kevin what he is up to now and here’s what he said.
“I’m busy touring the USA, that’s Urmston, Stretford and Altrincham! Next year I’m off to LA, Lower Ancoats! I’m performing with groups of friends of mine in various venues. I now sing songs by Johnny Cash, Janice Joplin, Eddie Cochrane and a few others, as well as Elvis of course. Another great thing about the music scene is that I regularly meet ex pupils. I never cease to be amazed at the amount of musical talent there is in the area (including my favourite rat pack singer Wayne Devlin!)”
It’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to Kevin (Elvis) Murphy and I feel very lucky to call him my friend. So over to you Kevin for the final word.
“I’ve always been very pleased that so many of my ex pupils come to shake hands with me and thank me for helping them. So a big shout out for all the ex-pupils and all the staff at the College of Knowledge, School for the Cool, Wellacre Academy!”