A MUSIC teacher at Alva Academy has paid thanks to the entire Clackmannanshire community as he received a nomination for an MBE.

David Clifford has been awarded the top accolade in the King’s New Year Honours for services to charitable funding in Clackmannanshire.

David has overseen and led a number of fundraisers and activities at Alva, which has seen the school become the most successful non-corporate fundraiser in the UK for World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

He serves as the faculty principal teacher for music, art and physical education at Alva Academy and laid credit with everyone he has worked with across 20 years for helping him achieve this honour.

Speaking exclusively to the Advertiser, David said he was moved to tears when he found out about his award.

“I’m not entirely sure it’s sunk in yet,” he said. “It was a Monday, I’d just finished school and we’d had our Parkinson’s singing group, who were preparing for the Christmas concert.

“I came home and there was a letter there that looked official and my first thought was ‘oh god, what have I done?’

“I opened it with my wife and my jaw hit the floor when I was reading it. I didn’t quite realise what it meant until I reread it and my wife read it.

“It said I had received a king’s honour which was just beyond incredible. When we were lucky enough to be awarded a Point of Light in 2016, that was a shock.

“But this tops even that.”

“My wife knew about the nomination as she had been approached by a couple of people who had put the nomination in.

“I was privileged enough to be sent a lot of the information that went in which was incredibly humbling.

“I’m not embarrassed to say I was in floods of tears reading it all, especially the ones from ex pupils.”

David was officially recognised for his services towards charitable causes in the Wee County, which covers four key projects he oversees.

Firstly, for the past 14 years, he has helped raise over half a million for Macmillan Cancer Support by contributing to the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

David leads a choir for those with Parkinson’s, helping them utilise singing and music to ease their symptoms, which he insisted were like a “second family”.

Alongside a group of sixth year pupils, he helped launch the Classrooms to Care Homes initiative, which sees the school record music videos to send to living facilities across the whole of the UK.

Each year, Alva Academy will promote holocaust awareness and remembrance throughout January and November.

While the music teacher is at the head of all of this, he insists a lot of the credit must go towards Alva Academy for their support.

David added: “We’ve run our Parkinson’s singing group for the past six years and they won a Times Educational Supplement (TES) award which was like the Oscars for education.

“That made up a big part of the nomination which was lovely because we’ve raised a lot of money for them and obviously they’ve become a second family to us at the school.

“We started our classrooms to care homes initiative which, through that, I was making video upon video and sending them to hundreds of care homes across the UK and we’ve received thousands of views and lovely feedback.

“A big thanks goes out to three of our current S6 pupils – Emily Meeten, Rosanne Watkins and Corin McDonald, who served as the inspiration behind our care home music videos.

“Without them, we would never have made the first of more than 100 videos made.

“All of that encapsulates the charitable work that the school does, which is second to none. I’ve never come across a school or pupils who are so selfless and want to do so much for others.”

The Parkinson’s singing group is a cause which is particularly close to David’s heart, as he was inspired to start the choir when his own father received a diagnosis.

Since then, the choir has grown to be a very popular entity and helped Alva win a TES award for Community Engagement Initiative of the Year in 2023.

David continued: “When my diagnosed with Parkinson’s around six or seven years ago now, one of the symptoms alongside the physical aspect of it is your voice decreases in volume and you face difficulty during speech.

“One of the things we thought of was ‘what can we do?’ The school gave me the position and the tools to be musical so the only thing really to do was to set up a choir, which has just flourished.

“We now have anywhere between 25-35 people either living with Parkinson’s or their carers coming along weekly as well as lots of pupils who take part.

“They take part in all of our concerts and performances which is absolutely tremendous.”

David is a mainstay of Alva Academy, having worked there for the last 20 years, his first permanent teaching position.

Since then, it has grown to become more than a job for him, remarking that he can’t see himself working anywhere else.

“I started working at Alva 20 years ago in 2004,” David added. “This was the same time as my wife started working there and it was my first permanent position.

“To me, the grass is never greener. Given what the school stands for, given the school values that we have and the teachers and pupils there.

“I believe in loyalty and I’ve just never wanted to move. There’s always something new to do every time we do something.

“Even though we carry out something big for Macmillan every year, it changes every year and the pupils are different every year.

“To me, why would I ever want to go anywhere else?”

When he received his nomination, David looked back on two decades of work at Alva Academy, which he admitted moved him to tears.

He went on to add that he considers himself very fortunate to be able to work in such a good environment and in an area he loves, which he considers pivotal to their charitable success.

“Not in a million years did I think any of it would lead to this”, David said. “I’m lucky because I have a real love for my own subject which is music.

“I’d much rather teach pupils and hope that they get the benefits from music that I did and provide them with the opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to have.

“I always wanted to teach, it’s something that I love and I’m very proud of the successes we’ve had through teaching and now I’m fortunate enough to lead an amazing team of musicians, artists and PE teachers.

“It’s a brilliant faculty and a wonderful school and I could see myself there until retirement.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky to have incredibly supportive teachers and senior management at the school because they allow us to do what we do.

“They support us in every single thing that we do, they get involved, they facilitate things and support us financially and give us whatever time is needed.

“I can’t thank them enough because without them, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

David wasn’t the only Wee County name to be recognised in the King’s New Year Honours this year, as Clackmannanshire Council director Lorraine Sanda was also nominated for an MBE.

Lorraine heads up the council’s People Directorate and has been recognised for services to children and families in the Wee County.

David heaped praise on Lorraine and everyone he has worked alongside and taught for their nominations and support.

He continued: “I would like to thank the teachers and staff at Alva Academy firstly. And a big thanks to every single pupil who has contributed to our Macmillan fundraising efforts or performed in any of our videos or concerts through our care home initiative.

“Thanks to the Parkinson’s singing group, definitely, because without them, working life would be considerably worse.

“They bring a lot of joy to the pupils and to me personally as well. A big thanks to my mum and dad for providing me with the tools to be able to do this, my dad always says you get what you put in which is words that I live by.

“They bought me my first guitar which allowed me to go into teaching so if it hadn’t been for them, none of this would have happened.

“I’d like to thank the two other committee members, definitely, because they deserve this as much as I do. So, a big thanks to Shiona Finn and my wife Kirsty Clifford.

“And thanks go out to the whole community, if it hadn’t been for them pulling together and doing what it does best, we wouldn’t be in this position. It’s an amazing community.

“I’d like to thank the people that took the time to put in a nomination because that meant the world to me, especially Ruth Galloway.

“I’d also like to congratulate Lorraine Sanda. To have two MBE nominations from Clackmannanshire, that was the icing on the cake.

“What an authority we are, she thoroughly deserves it and she’s contributed to our care home videos and supported us in everything we do.

“I can think of nobody more deserving of it than her.”

“We don’t do any of what we do for awards or honours but to be recognised on this stage is a testament of the work done by everybody.

“Sure, maybe I have some of the original ideas for the musical items or singing group but it is 100 per cent a group effort.

“I’ll be accepting this on behalf of the whole community of Alva Academy and Clackmannanshire.”