A Superhuman TV debut

15th July 2016

For me, it’s been a big fortnight for superhuman efforts. First, there were the superhuman fundraising efforts that the Virgin Media people have shown raising funds for Scope during charity week. Now, I’m over the moon to appear in Channel 4’s brilliant new ‘Superhumans’ TV advert promoting its coverage of the Rio Paralympics.

I originally trained as a professional horn player at the Royal College of Music. After a brief freelance career I joined one of the pioneering cable companies based in Cambridge and have been an access network planner for 23 years.  Although I decided that a full-time career in music wasn’t for me, I still kept my playing going and was able to sustain a musical life outside of my work commitments and play to a professional level.

Unfortunately, in 2015, I had a bad fall at home and broke my back. This left me paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. At that time, it seemed like my career both in music and at Virgin Media might be over, but with the help of friends, family and Virgin Media, I was able to ‘find my feet’ again and continue to work and play. I can’t stress enough how important is was for me to remain positive and to motivate myself to keep going and beat the doubters. You’ll see this is the key message in the Channel 4 ‘Superhumans’ Trailer which is being shown on television screens in homes across the country.

I was absolutely astounded to be asked to take part in the Channel 4 Superhumans ad for the Rio Paralympics (you can spot me playing the French Horn in the swing band that appears throughout) and at one stage doubted whether I was going to be able to juggle all my commitments (I also have a wife and four daughters to think about). However, with support from Virgin Media and my family, this was truly going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I will now never forget.

Filming took place in May and involved working in studios and on location in and around London. Nothing had prepared me for the complexity of this project and the amount of tireless work by the crew that went into producing the film. Not only was it a hugely logistical exercise (some of my fellow musicians had come from America and New Zealand), the meticulous attention to detail that meant the shoot days were long and there was a fair bit of waiting around. I found the whole process fascinating and the team work I saw unfolding in front of me on the other side of the lens, was nothing more than astonishing. We were also very well looked after and despite some of the crews working 20 hour days, everyone kept smiling and had a real belief in what we were trying to achieve.

One of the highlights of doing the project for me as a musician was the opportunity for us to record the soundtrack you hear on the trailer at Abbey Road Studios. We got to record in Studio 2, where the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper and Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.  To sit in the Abbey Road canteen and soak up the atmosphere was a truly awesome experience.

Watch the trailer and let it speak for itself, it features over 100 amazing disabled (or differently abled) people including 40 Paralympians, 16 musicians and 53 non-athletes. Not only do I hope the film and the games themselves inspire more disabled people to never be held back, but it’s also brilliant to see the difference that organisations like Scope make to people across the country.

Watch the new trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocLkk3aYlk 

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