When Charles Spencer had a stroke 10 years ago he thought his piano playing days were behind him.
Left with the inability to use his right arm, the retired businessman faced the rest of his days without the hobby which he had enjoyed since he was eight-years-old.
“I loaned the piano to Bradford Grammar School, It was irritating me just to have it in the house, it was like having a nice car I couldn’t drive.”
Mr Spencer was 54 when he suffered a stroke when on holiday in Greece. He spent three weeks in hospital on Skiathos before spending another six weeks at Harrogate District Hospital.
He said: “It was incredibly difficult not being able to move and talk, every time you wake up you can’t believe that this is happening to you, that you can’t do those things.”
The 64 -year-old who has lived in Harrogate for the last three years after moving from Norward was forced to re-learn how to speak, read and walk.
“It was a humiliating process,” admitted the father of three daughters, “I would sit there with a therapist using basic reading cards and I thought, I can’t believe I am doing this, and even worse I can’t believe I am sometimes getting it wrong.”
Mr Spencer remained determined and two years ago he discovered that music had been composed and adapted to be played with just the left hand.
The piano returned to the house he shares with his wife Katie and Charles took up lessons with Harrogate piano teacher Gillian Tarn.
He said: “I have to admit I was disheartened at first, I thought I would be able to just sit down and play but I had to relearn how to read music, and play again.”
The inspirational musician says that being able to play the piano again has brought joy into his life and that he gets so much satisfaction from playing he often practises for up to two hours a day.
He said: “When you have a stroke you feel you lose your self esteem, your sense of self worth. Being able to play afain has really brought back my sense of self, my confidence.”
Charles said the work that the Stroke Association had done with him has been invaluable and he recently performed a recitcal at the Roundhay Stroke Club in North Leeds.
He said: “It was very much a satisfying moment and I was nervous but to be in that room with people who were wishing me well and willing me on to tbe able to do it, it was incredible.”
His wife, Katie, said his recital was a very emotional moment. She said: “I was just so proud, it was incredible to see him play, I never thought I’d see him at the piano again.”
Later this month the Stroke Association are fundraising and encouraging people to use their ‘other hand’ See www.stroke.org.uk/giveahand for more information.