Sheffield man, back from the brink of blindness, to play charity concert this month

Bill Skipworth, who is on a quest to help the blind, will give charity concert this month in Sheffield
Bill Skipworth, who is on a quest to help the blind, will give charity concert this month in Sheffield
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A pianist brought back from the brink of blindness will play at a charity concert this month.

Sheffield man Bill Skipworth will get behind the piano again at Victoria Hall Methodist Church for the concert, in his quest to support those who have lost their sight.

Bill, 64, will raise money for the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind at the concert on Friday, September 29 at the venue on Norfolk Street.

The concert is free to attend, but there will be donations taken for the charity.

Bill, who lives at Middlewood Drive, Middlewood, knows too well the affects of losing your sight. This time last year, he was totally blind.

Glaucoma in his right eye destroyed the optic nerve when Bill was just 50.

He was diagnosed with the condition at 36.

Last year, the vision went his left eye, but doctors were able to restore some sight.

His vision is limited, but Bill said he was 'light years' ahead of someone who has no vision.

"It's not ideal, but I can see the keyboard, and that's the big thing."

"I still can't read music very well."

The former dentist has played the piano since he was seven, and he said that, in a strange way, his condition had helped him musically.

When Bill lost his sight, he developed synesthesia - the ability to see music 'in colours'.

C notes appear as yellow and F is blue, and it makes writing music like painting a picture.

"When I went blind on the right eye, that's what triggered it," he said.

Bill volunteers at the charity, and said his own experience gave him added empathy towards the people it helps.

"It's opened my eyes to how total blindness is terrible," he said.

University of Sheffield physics and astronomy lecturer Ed Daw will also play at the concert.

"He's an incredible pianist," Bill said.

"You've got to hear him to believe it."

Leeds woman Diana Harris will sing some numbers on the night.

Bill encouraged any music fans to attend.

"If they're depressed, at the end of this concert, they'll be laughing," he said.

"You know how when you hear good music, from good musicians, it makes you happy.

"And I want people to realise that, this time last year, this guy was totally blind."