A man whose wife bought him a guitar to help his recovery after two brain operations has spoken of the power of music.
Al Nash, 47, from Wrexham, has won a national guitar competition organised by Q magazine, Help Musicians UK and Gibson.
The competition aims to honour people whose lives have been touched by the power of music.
Two years ago, Al’s wife bought him a guitar to help with his memory following the surgery.
The guitar soon became an obsession and a major support for Al and his family as he went through his recovery.
Al said: “Following brain surgery for removal of a growth in my brain, I was left with brain injuries effecting my memory, my wife bought me a guitar and Rocksmith to help with my memory issues.
“Two years on I play every day and practice to my limitations, can’t remember much but I love it. Although, I need to nail those pentatonic scales.
“A brain injury is life changing, but there are thousands of people out there who would benefit from music therapy, either playing or listening, as I have done.
“If I can just inspire just one person to pick up an instrument and make them realise how it can turn your life around, that would be amazing.”
The competition, a collaboration between Q, charity Help Musicians UK and guitar brand Gibson, asked musicians across the country to tell them how they fell in love with playing the guitar in order to win a guitar masterclass and a legendary Gibson USA 2017 Les Paul Standard guitar.
From the responses submitted, a shortlist of eight was invited to attend a workshop hosted at the Gibson showrooms in London, with Help Musicians UK and Paul Stokes from Q magazine.
The workshop included the history of Gibson and the legend of the Gibson Les Paul guitar, as well as a session where attendees had the chance to get their hands on and play the guitars.
The session highlighted just how important music is in aiding recovery for people who have suffered serious or life threatening diseases or injuries.
Phil Alexander, editor in chief of Q, said: “We had many excellent, worthy entries and people’s stories were genuinely full of remarkable achievements. The entire experience confirmed what a vital role music plays in people’s lives and in their recoveries.
“Al Nash’s story really stood out. He truly loves the guitar and his music, and it is clearly something that helps him through the daily challenges he faces following his surgery.
“He is a deserving recipient of the Les Paul he now plays, but we hope this will be the first of many initiatives between Q, Help Musicians UK and Gibson where we can come together to truly help and inspire people.”
Jess Phillips, fundraising and development manager at Help Musicians UK added: “We were very impressed by all the entries and it was truly inspiring to hear everyone’s unique relationship with music.
“Al Nash’s story particularly fits with the HMUK mission, which is to support musicians throughout their lives and career, and to create a positive impact on the UK musical landscape.
“We look forward to seeing where Al takes his new Les Paul and hope his story encourages people who have been through similar experiences to play music.”
Al added: “One of the best things about visiting the Gibson Studios in London was the number of personal milestones I conquered, I suffer with agoraphobia, I don’t like crowds, I’m not very good with people and I rarely venture far from home.
“I’ve been invited to go and play at open mic evenings, I’ve always declined because of my agoraphobia. So, coming to the studios in London has proven I can overcome my demons.
“Ultimately I want to get out there playing for people, spreading the message that life shouldn’t stop if you have brain damage.
“You just need a guitar, some self-motivation and courage to make people smile.”