Plea for unwanted instruments to get disabled people into music

16-year-old Charlie Pinner, from Hellesdon, is urging people to donate their unwanted musical instruments to charity

16-year-old Charlie Pinner, from Hellesdon, is urging people to donate their unwanted musical instruments to charity - Credit: Electric Umbrella

A teenager with a rare genetic condition is urging people to donate unwanted musical instruments to get more disabled people into the groove. 

Electric Umbrella is a charity which collects and adapts second hand musical instruments to make them more accessible for people living with disabilities.

Among those to benefit from the charity's support is 16-year-old Charlie Pinner, who lives with a rare condition called Williams Syndrome.

Charlie, from Hellesdon, first got involved with the charity during last year's lockdown and is now backing the charity's appeal to collect 1,000 instruments by Christmas.

He said: "Electric Umbrella has encouraged me to sing, dance and make my own music with lots of different instruments. It has meant that I can have conversations and make friends with all sorts of people from all over the world.

“The guest musicians the charity works with are really entertaining and we have the chance to ask them questions about their music, their lives and other interests.”

His mum Cheryl, added: “We love seeing Charlie interact with other young people and the artists online. It is a joy to listen in and see just how much he gets from every session.

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"It was fantastic in lockdown because it meant Charlie did not feel isolated while he was not at school.” 

The Hertfordshire-based charity was set up five years ago to provide a gateway to music for people living with disabilities.

It arranges concerts, events and festivals, as well as interactive online musical get-togethers for its members to enjoy.

And it also recycles and repurposes second-hand instruments, either making them more accessible for others to use or reselling them to fund other activities it runs.

Electric Umbrella co-founder, Tom Billington, said: “We believe there is still life in even the oldest dogs and we’re asking people to donate their unused instruments so we can put them to good use and bring fun and joy to people’s lives.

“By empowering learning disabled people to take centre stage and show off their amazing talents we aim to encourage people to think differently about them.

“By donating your unwanted and unloved musical instruments you can be part of a movement to change people’s perceptions and make the world a more inclusive place.”

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