Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s leading music therapy charity, has released a short animated film about the power of music therapy, featuring Emeli Sandé, who is an ambassador for the organisation.

Video: Nordoff Robbins Christmas Appeal - Ed's Story #MusicIsMedicine

The film is the centrepiece of the charity’s Christmas appeal, which hopes to raise £100,000.

The film, which is set to Emeli Sandé’s track Mountains, tells the story of 22 year old Edward Buckley from Hertfordshire. In January 2012, Ed, who was studying to be a pilot at Leeds University, was hit by a speeding taxi when he was 20. His parents were told to expect the worst, but against all odds, Ed survived.

After his accident, Ed spent three months in hospital in Leeds and was then transferred to the Regional Rehabilitation Unit at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, one of the country’s leading specialist rehabilitation units – which also meant he was a lot closer to home.

After six months, when he woke from his coma, he was unable to speak, walk or carry out even the most basic tasks and the brain damage he suffered left him with profound memory loss. During his time at Northwick Park Hospital, Ed underwent an intensive programme of rehabilitation which included working with Nordoff Robbins music therapist, Jessica Atkinson, as well as a team of nurses, doctors and other therapists. Music therapy is a part of the team that helped Ed recover his speech and memory and even helped him learn to walk again.

Ed said: "Despite being wheelchair-bound and in a fog which meant at times I struggled to remember even daily tasks, when I sat at a piano, I could remember chords I knew how to play before the accident. I could be pushed up to the piano and I would bang out ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles. I remembered the chords for that, but I had no other memory.

“Music makes me feel different. During my rehabilitation, I spent most of the week concentrating on walking better and thinking better but when I put my fingers on the piano keys, I just let it go and concentrated on other stuff. That’s what unlocked my brain.’

“On leaving the hospital, I presented them with a plaque which said ‘Arrived unconscious. Walked out singing’.

“For me, music really was my medicine”.

Emeli Sandé said: "Ed’s story is an incredible example of how powerful music is. For the people Nordoff Robbins work with every day, music is their medicine.

“I’m proud to support this project and I hope my involvement will help raise awareness of music therapy.

“Please take a moment to watch the film and then give as generously as you can. Every penny will really make a difference to Nordoff Robbins.”

Ed’s music therapist, Jessica Atkinson, who has been with Nordoff Robbins for 15 years, has worked in hospices, special needs schools, care homes and now at the Regional Rehabilitation Unit at Northwick Park Hospital.

Jessica said "Like many patients with a severe brain-injury, Ed struggled to speak, at first saying the few words he could manage in either a high-pitched tone or flat monotone. I used the piano and my own voice to model phrases that changed pitch, which Ed could copy. Ed was then able to go away and practise without me, taking the initiative in his own rehabilitation. This method helped him learn to speak again.

“When he was ready to come out of his wheelchair, working alongside his physio and occupational therapists, I used a drum to help Ed regain a natural walking rhythm that gave him balance and momentum. The simple effect of a marching beat gives the body a natural rhythm to copy. And I worked closely with other members of Ed’s clinical team to work on improving his finger control, using the piano keys as a tool.”

Dr Marcus Stephan, CEO of Nordoff Robbins said: "Ed was fortunate to receive treatment in a hospital which had a Nordoff Robbins music therapist. The therapy helped to recover his speech, his memory and even helped him learn how to walk again. For Ed, music was his medicine.

“But there are thousands of people across the UK just like Ed who do not have access to a music therapist. This Christmas we need to raise £100,000 to provide more music therapy across the UK. Please help us and please be as generous as you can. Just £25 can make a difference to someone like Ed.

“We are proud to be working with Emeli Sandé. As a musician and a former medical student, she is very well placed to understand just what a difference music therapy can make.”

Lynne McDowell, Senior Communications Manager at the BPI, which helped to fund the short film, said: "This touching documentation of Ed’s story demonstrates the importance of the ground-breaking music therapy work carried out by Nordoff Robbins on a daily basis.

“Thanks to their trained music therapists, we know that thousands of people have been taken on their own musical journey which has helped them to overcome struggles or live better lives with the illnesses they face.

BPI, alongside our charity The BRIT Trust, will continue to support the work of this unique charity and we hope that this Christmas others will too.”

The film has been directed by Ali Assaf (talltale.org.uk) and illustrated by Adam Cruft.

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