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Charity hopes to play musical chairs to change our perceptions

PUBLISHED: 10:00 14 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:00 14 April 2015

Musical Keys programme manager Oliver Payne and chairman Ken Shelton with the

Musical Keys programme manager Oliver Payne and chairman Ken Shelton with the "Musical Chairs" wheelchair. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

A Norwich charity has developed a wheelchair which can be used to create "techno" music sounds.

Musical Keys programme manager Oliver Payne with the Musical Keys programme manager Oliver Payne with the "Musical Chairs" wheelchair. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The wheelchair is part of a project by Musical Keys, to try to turn a range of mobility devices into musical synthesisers.

Working with disabled people over the summer, the charity hopes to create a unique sound from wheelchairs and other aids such as crutches and walking sticks.

It even hopes that the resulting creation may be used to lead out riders when the Tour of Britain visits the region later this year.

Oliver Payne, project manager at Musical Keys, said: “This kind of thing hasn’t been done before and we’re really excited at the prospect of developing an innovative approach which presents disabled people in an extremely positive light and makes a lot of noise at the same time.”

The charity, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, aims not only to support the learning of young people with disabilities through music but also create a strong support network for carers and families.

Sallie Eastick is chief executive and founded the charity to help support her son, George, who died when he was 20. The 66-year-old, who lives in New Catton, said: “When we started we thought that music could assist the development of children. It is something that everyone enjoys and it could bring some fun to the lives of everyone involved.

“The charity has grown ever since and at its height it helped over 100 families in Norfolk.”

Lucy Childs, a trustee of the charity, said: “My son has autism and general learning difficulties so he couldn’t play or interact with other children. The support network from other families has been a great support over the years. It was great to be able to come to Musical Keys and not have to apologise for his behaviour or any funny noises he made because everyone here understood.”

Ken Shelton, chairman of trustees at Musical Keys, said: “We work with a lot of families across the county, but we know there is still a lot of need, which we want to be able to address. We also recognise that there are great benefits for businesses and charities in working together to improve our local society, and we have got lots of ideas which we will be developing throughout our 25th birthday year so everyone can get involved with what we do.”

The group launched their project at The Woolpack Yard pub in Norwich yesterday morning with the trustees and local businesses.

David Lane, founder of Grey Seal Coffee, one of the businesses supporting the charity, said: “I’m a musician myself so that piqued my interest in the project.

“I’m really intrigued by the technological aspect to the musical chairs so look forward to seeing the finished product.”

Do you have a story about a charity? Email george.ryan@archant.co.uk

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