THE father of a boy with learning difficulties who saved his son’s band from breaking up when funding was cut has been applauded for his commitment.
Nick Radclyffe volunteered to manage Ealing Mencap’s rock band I Love Thunder in the summer when the charity could no longer pay for a full-time project leader.
Mr Radclyffe had already been playing bass guitar in the nine-piece band alongside his 14-year-old son, Luke, who plays keyboards, and could not bear to see the great work they were doing collapse overnight.
In return the charity offered them free space to continue meeting at its centre Enterprise Lodge, in Stockdove Way, Perivale, along with a £3,000 gift to buy new instruments.
Anne Warner, an Ealing Mencap trustee, was keen to nominate the band, which has members aged 14 to 65, in the Barclays Ealing Gazette Let’s Do It awards.
She said: “These are people with learning disabilities saying what they want to do and being able to do it. Despite the funding being cut it’s still running because they’re so passionate to keep it going and because Nick is so passionate about it.
“The side effects of the project are much greater than just playing music. They learn to listen, to wait, to get on with people and share ideas.”
Mr Radclyffe has just returned from a conference in Cuba where he learned about the Dissimilis method, an alternative way of teaching music through colour coding. He is using it with band member Vince, who cannot read or write, to learn to play guitar.
As much as I Love Thunder rely on Mr Radclyffe’s guidance, they are equally inspiring to their dedicated mentor.
“I come back after a session – you never quite know what’s going to happen – but invariably it leaves me with lifted spirits no matter what happens. It’s a great buzz,” he said.
“I never ever thought at this age I’d be on stage opposite my son playing in a band.”
They are desperate for funding so the £1,000 prize money could help them hire a singing coach. It could also help them fulfil their ambitions to play at a live music festival in Norway next year.