Singing star at Xmas concert for disabled boy

Austin Atkinson with father Richard, mother Gill and sister Esther
Austin Atkinson with father Richard, mother Gill and sister Esther
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IT will be a family affair at a star-studded Christmas concert to help a nine-year-old Wakefield boy who suffers from a rare muscle wasting disease.

The ‘Christmas Belles and the Odd Chap’ concert at Unity Hall on December 6 has been organised to raise cash to buy a specially adapted trike for Austin Atkinson of Walton, who suffers from muscular dystrophy.

Austin Atkinson

Austin Atkinson

Singing star Rebecca Newman of York will be performing at the event. She is known as the ‘People’s Soprano’ and her album ‘Dare to Dream’ went straight to number one in the official UK classical album charts.

Also appearing will be saxophonsit Julian Smith, who came third behind Diversity and Susan Boyle in the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent TV talent show.

Austin’s mother Gill, who is a member of the Leeds and Wakefield-based Rodillian Singers, will be performing on stage with the female voice choir.

And Austin’s seven-year-old sister Esther will be singing at the concert with the West Bretton Junior and Infant School Glee Club choir.

Soprano Rebecca Newman

Soprano Rebecca Newman

Children from Wakefield Girls High School’s Junior School Under Nine’s choir will also perform

The family Christmas concert, to be compered by comedian and former BBC Radio Leeds presenter Alex Belfield, will feature music from films, television and shows.

Austin’s father Richard, 40, said his wife Gill, 45, came up with the idea for the concert and the couple organised the event.

Mr Atkinson said: “It’s not just about fundraising. It’s about giving the children the chance to share a stage with established artists and to inspire them to develop an interest in music in the future.”

Austin, a pupil at West Bretton J&I School, was born suffering from merosin-deficient muscular dystrophy. He cannot walk unaided and has to use a wheelchair.

Mr Atkinson said: “He is just trying to be positive and really find out how much he can do. He has got a positive outlook and tries his best to get involved with as many things as he can.”

Proceeds from the concert will go towards buying Austin a £2,500 specially adapted trike. Surplus funds will be donated to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Mr Atkinson added: “He doesn’t let the condition get him down and get6 in the way of his enjoyment of life. There is no cure, it is really a case of see how we go on.”

To book tickets, call 01924 918679 or visit www.ticket­ or

Tomas Pietrangeli, Managing Director, Arla Foods UK, Photo: Adrian Forrest

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