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Hunstanton band hits high notes for disabled player

PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:15 07 July 2010

Chris Bishop

Disability did not stand between one determined young woman and her love of music. Now fellow band members are set to raise the rafters of a Norfolk church next month to launch a £30,000 appeal to buy her a new artificial hand.

Disability did not stand between one determined young woman and her love of music.

Now fellow band members are set to raise the rafters of a Norfolk church next month to launch a £30,000 appeal to buy her a new artificial hand.

Primary school teacher Becky Palmer, 27, from Fakenham, is principal trombonist with Hunstanton Concert Band. Despite her disability she mastered the instrument at school.

She is also an accomplished pianist and guitar player, not to mention a fearsome opponent on the tennis court.

"I've always enjoyed music, ever since I was young," she said as band members gathered for their regular Friday practice at Hunstanton's Union Church.

"They thought the trombone was the only instrument I could play at school and no-one else played it. I taught myself trumpet and I learned piano. We had to learn the guitar at uni - that was a challenge."

Miss Palmer said former head John Arkell and music teacher Lynne Roberts inspired her during her salad days at Gresham's School, Holt.

When her saxophone-playing tennis partner Liz Morrison suggested an audition with the concert band, she found an outlet for her trombone playing.

"She said - try out the band and see what you think," Miss Palmer said. "That was in 2007 and they couldn't get rid of me."

Trumpet player cum percussionist Katrina Barrow, from Ten Mile Bank, near Downham Market, said: "We keep trying to get rid of her but she's brilliant. How she does it, I'll never know.

"I've played with other bands but this is the most friendly, the most welcoming in the area."

Hunstanton Concert Band boasts 26 players, aged from their teens to their eighties, who perform everything from Mozart to Abba, at everything from church concerts to wedding receptions.

Alf Ball, who founded the concert band 11 years ago, said oboe and french horn players, along with clarinettists were needed to swell their ranks.

"We all admire Becky so much, for the problems she's got - she just puts everything into it," said he added.

David Kittle, from Bawsey, took up the tuba six years ago to accompany his euphonium-playing wife Louise.

"Becky's amazing," he said. "When you think what she can do you feel a bit humble - especially when you can't get the right notes, you think how can she do it."

Band members will next month perform a fund raising concert to kick off Hand Aid - an appeal to buy Miss Palmer a £30,000 artificial hand.

Controlled electronically by her forearm muscles, it will give her more control of her trombone and piano keyboard than her NHS-issued artificial hand.

Abba, Glen Miller and Johann Strauss will all be on the programme at the Union Church, in Hunstanton, on Saturday, April 10 (7pm). Advance tickets are £5 from Witley's newsagents, in the High Street. Admission on the door £6.

To donate, e-mail rachaeldavies@fsmail.net

www. hunstantonconcertband.co.uk

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