FOLLOWING years of unemployment, a Hartlepool man has gone from being king of the karaoke to a professional singer.

With the help of Inbiz, Richard Cockburn has launched a business singing in pubs and clubs, and at events in the town.

He said: "I had always dreamed of being a singer, but I needed the confidence and the karaoke gave it to me.

"Friends just kept on telling me I should be singing on my own, and that is what I am doing now.

"Over the years, I have been unemployed on and off, but now I have got the chance of doing something I love and it is fantastic."

Inbiz has put Mr Cockburn, 35, in touch with other musicians, who have helped him find venues.

Terry Owens, chief executive of Inbiz, said: "Music has given Richard a real focus in his life, and we are delighted that we have been able to be of help to him.

"What is really uplifting is that other musicians have been only too pleased to give him some assistance."