Paralysed musician conducts top band

A musician has fulfilled his lifetime ambition to conduct the Black Dyke Band – despite being paralysed from the neck down.

Clarence Adoo worked as a professional trumpet player until a horrific car accident 15 years ago left him with a broken spine.

But he refused to let his disability ruin his dreams and, as the only totally paralysed conductor in the world, has come up with a way to direct the talented musicians – using just his eyes, facial expression and movement.

Mr Adoo, 50, has also started playing in a quartet after composer Rolf Gehlhaar designed him a unique instrument that he could play. The Headspace, the only one of its kind in the world, is a computer-based "virtual" instrument that Mr Adoo wears on his head and uses his breath to operate.

He has now reached a new milestone in his career by conducting the world-famous Yorkshire-based Black Dyke Band for a piece during their concert at Halifax Minster.

Mr Adoo, who lives in Newcastle, said: "I never dreamt when I was a young boy that I could be conducting arguably the best brass band in the world. But when I was in hospital I realised I had two choices, I could either sit around and mope or dust myself off and see what was possible.

"I knew I would never play five-a-side football again but I don't look at what I can't do, I look at what I can do. And what I have done here is amazing. I was so thrilled to be asked."

Mr Adoo generally conducts smaller bands but he has used a baton attached to his head when he has conducted a larger orchestra.

He said: "Sometimes, there's a group on my right and my left that I want to indicate to and I'll have to lean to one side and blink my eyes for the other.

"Sometimes I have to use different things, so my facial expression becomes very relevant."