Picture gallery: Rising pop star Anttix delivers anti-bullying message at Dereham’s Northgate High School
© Archant Norfolk 2013
A rising pop star gave an energetic performance to 200 adoring teenagers in Dereham – coupled with a serious message about the dangers of cyber-bullying.
Many of Northgate High’s normal school assembly rules were broken as the Year 9 students cheered, screamed and danced to the songs of Anttix, an up-and-coming singer who is touring the UK to promote his music, including his new single called Tornado.
In the last 18 months, the 23-year-old has performed with musicians including The Saturdays, McFly, Rita Ora and Ed Sheeran.
But yesterday’s performance in Dereham was aimed at raising awareness of the issues surrounding cyber-bullying, and the damaging effects of abusive messages posted on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Ask.fm.
Anttix, whose real name is Antony Llewellyn, is supported by national charity The Cybersmile Foundation, which provides young people affected by online hate campaigns with advice and coping strategies.
After singing three new songs to his young audience, he said: “People think this is the boring part, but to me it’s more important than selling records.
“About two years ago I decided to go for it and become a pop singer. I got a record deal and life was so sweet. It got to the point when I was on Facebook and Twitter and most people will love you, but I would occasionally get a tweet where people say things like: “Why don’t you just die.’
“You can banter about it, but it is really quite serious. Some people would really, really struggle with people who are saying nasty things about them online. From working with The Cybersmile Foundation I’ve heard stories that some people have committed suicide because they’re so stressed out about it.
“People think that bullying is literally about being in a playground and someone hits you in the face. But cyber-bullying can be mentally-torturing and I think we should be a generation where everybody just says nice things to each other online.”
Tom Sawyer, head of Year 9 at the school, said: “With today’s technologically-advanced world we live in, where everybody has smart-phones, we do find occasional issues with bullying online. It is not a huge problem, but it exists.
“I am keen to send a message to young people in Northgate that this is something that can affect their lives. I am a teacher – they know me and they hear me, but how much they listen to me is another point. But it is great to have someone who is a young, up-and-coming artist, who is someone perhaps they can relate to a bit more in his style of presentation and his use of language.
“With the enthusiasm that Anttix can deliver the pupils might sit up and listen, and think a bit more about what they are getting into.”