Veteran appeals for help to arrange fundraising concert in Portsmouth

IT'S never too late to learn something new.

Friday, 24th June 2016, 5:55 am
Gerald Williams is learning to play the organ to raise money for charity. Organ teacher Paul Taylor checks all is well Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160720-2)

Veteran Gerald Williams wants to give something back to the charities that have helped him over the years – so he’s set himself a musical challenge.

The 79-year-old, from Carlisle Road, Southsea, plans to learn to play the electric organ over the coming months – culminating in a fundraising concert.

After being diagnosed with a rare disease called Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the body’s connective tissues, Mr Williams was supported by charitable organisations Veterans Outreach Support and Disability Information Advice Line.

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He said: ‘It broke my heart in 1991 when they told me that I would end up in a wheelchair. This year I will have been in it 25 years. I can’t walk at all now.

‘It’s taken its toll. You can see all my veins and bones, but I’ve decided that I’m going to take up playing the electric organ.’

About one in 3,000 people is affected by the syndrome.

Mr Williams, who was in the Royal Corps of Signals, has no prior experience of playing music, but he hopes to channel his efforts and become good enough to play in front of the mayor.

He said: ‘I’m only on the third lesson at the moment, but I’m hoping to be able to play professionally by Christmas.’

He plans to run a fundraiser where he will play on stage at the Guildhall in Portsmouth in January.

‘I’m just trying to find a way of saying thank you to everybody,’ he explained.

‘They’ve given me so much, been generous, so if I can raise as much money as I can then that would be great.

‘I am doing this for charity. Not for my own good – but for charity.’

With his lessons under way and the charities on board, Mr Williams is looking for help with sponsorship and in organising the Guildhall event.

Anyone who can help him can call (023) 9261 4310.