Heroes of London: Tony

#HeroesOfLondon is shining a light on the humans behind our small charities and the amazing – and vital – work they do in London's communities, during the cost-of-living crisis and every day. We spent the last month meeting just some of these local heroes. The stories you are reading are direct transcripts from our chats with them.

Meet Tony from Happy Drums.

I know what it's like to struggle to pay even 10 pounds or five pounds for sessions. It’s difficult for a lot of people.

As a small company, I set up originally to be my own boss and my own company, meaning that poorer organisations can afford to book me. There's no middle man. When I do go for funding, the money is spent on activities, not the overheads, like rent and stuff and things like that. About 99% of the money goes towards that particular project.

The beautiful thing is that until now I've been doing everything by word of mouth. But now, thanks to London Community Foundation, over the last five years I've been getting funding. I've been building the reputation of our network and I've grown to a stage now whereby I can self-sustain. In those five years I've been using social media. I've not been using Instagram or advertise as such, but I'm sure that once I start to do that, then I'll grow my own income.

This particular funding has helped me to give things back to the community. For example, in Marville Park, I've been doing workshop for mums and children up to five years old within the park. That workshop is donation based: some people pay, some people don't. Those sessions are normally free. Because I know what it's like to struggle to pay even 10 pounds or five pounds for sessions. It’s difficult for a lot of people. This funding helped me to sustain that, so that I could go around different places do these free sessions for people within the community.

It's kind of like it's infectious. When you see people are happy and enjoying themselves, they rub off on you. For me and the crew, it's an enjoyment to see people having fun.

As you know, in these times, there are so many negatives. It’s nice to be around people... to be a part of a group that actually brings out the childlike quality of happiness in people, you know? I'm loving it.

Someone once said to me that if you can make anyone smile for a couple seconds, that could actually change their life. Because that laughter is like a seed you are planting that could develop into something nice. Maybe not now, but sometime in the future.

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