‘I hope my experience can inspire people’: Blind pianist, 13, wins national disability award

A 13-year-old boy with complex disabilities has found friendship through his love of piano and won a national charity’s annual award.

Chapman Shum, who lives near Southfields Station in Wimbeldon Park Road, Wandsworth, was born blind due to a rare genetic condition and also has speech and learning difficulties. 

The Sense Awards, now in its 20th year, is the charity’s annual celebration of people with complex disabilities and those in their lives that support them. 

There are 13 categories in total including the Young Person of the Year award, won this year by Mr Shum.  

He said: “Thank you Sense for this award, this is amazing. 

“I hope my experience can inspire people who are also facing challenges, because if I can do it, you can do it too. I want to thank my buddy Gabriella for the weekly online sessions, I really like them.” 

Mr Shum cannot read music, but teaches himself pieces by listening and memorising thousands of notes.

Mr Shum achieved a distinction in his Grade 8 piano exam aged 11 (Picture: Sense charity)

He achieved a distinction in his Grade 8 piano exam aged 11, which is the equivalent to an A-level in music.   

He regularly performs public piano recitals which have helped build his confidence, but he’s often struggled to make friends. 

Research from Sense shows 53 per cent of people with complex disabilities often or always feel lonely, compared to a quarter of the general population.  

Mr Shum’s parents, Chun and Jing Shum, signed their son up to Sense’s virtual buddying programme, which connects people with similar interests in a bid to reduce loneliness. 

Through this programme, Mr Shum met Gabby Sanchez, 22, a Sense volunteer.

The pair have bonded over their shared love of music and Ms Sanchez dusted off her flute after years of not playing so they could play music together.  

Since Mr Shum began the sessions with his virtual buddy more than a year ago, he has made huge strides in his social skills. 

Chun said:  “We are immensely grateful to the judges for recognising Chapman’s journey. 

“Their acknowledgement means the world to him.”

Pictured top: Chapman Shum with his Young Person of the Year award (Picture: Sense charity)

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One thought on “‘I hope my experience can inspire people’: Blind pianist, 13, wins national disability award

  • Congratulations Mr Shum


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