The family of a Hagley man who broke his back have raised £3,200 as a thank you for the care he received at the famous Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Composer Andrew Downes is wheelchair bound after breaking his back when his hip gave way because of arthritis of the spine, which he has had since he was 12.

His music-loving family embarked on an ambitious fundraising project in 2020 to host a year of musical concerts in celebration of Andrew’s 70th birthday to raise funds for Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research (SMSR).

Andrew received care and support at the hospital’s National Spinal Injuries Unit in 2010.

Andrew’s daughter Paula said: “Dad ended up being in Stoke Mandeville for nine months where they taught him how to live again using a wheelchair. We were really impressed with the treatment he received; it was absolutely amazing to see him being brought back to life.”

In celebration of Andrew’s big birthday and as a ‘thank you’ for his “amazing” care and treatment, the Downes family made the decision to host a year of concerts to help raise funds.

“Initially we were going to hold live concerts, but then the pandemic struck, so we ended up moving the concerts online,” explained Paula, from Cambridge. “Before the first lockdown, we did manage to host two live concerts in January (2020) in Cambridge, then one in February at Birmingham University with the Central England Ensemble, which my sister, Anna, helped to organise.

“It was a huge success raising over £1,000 through donations.

“After a fourth live performance for Valentine’s Day, we then had to move online.”

“A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time, and it has a massive impact on your life and the lives of your family. My Dad suffers from one of the key areas funded by the Charity, neuropathic pain, and to have this constant pain is extremely difficult for him to deal with.

“I think that’s why Dad composes every day, it’s his escapism, his composition has been his healer. The arts have been so important to us as a family throughout the pandemic.”

Paula thanked the musicians who have taken part in the concerts, to those who have supported, the cause, and to Anthony Bradbury, sister Anna and Andrew and Cynthia Downes ‘for their wonderful support and contribution’.

To find out more about the Andrew Downes fundraisers, visit: