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Teen boy Toby Ott, born without eyes becomes top pianist

Updated: 25 Jan 2010
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Toby Ott

 

BRAVE Toby Ott was born WITHOUT EYES but, with a helping hand from the News of the World, he has become a brilliant pianist.

 

We gave amazing Toby's interest in music a boost when he was just FOUR by helping his parents buy him a piano.

 

And today, at 21, the gutsy lad has stunned everyone with his skills - winning a place at a top university to further his chosen musical career.

 

"I still have that same piano and that's where it all really began," said Toby. "I started having weekly lessons with a concert pianist and went on to study music at school, college and now university.

 

"My friends think it's pretty amazing I can even play a note, but it's always come naturally. I want to be a composer for films and video games one day."

 

Toby's incredible story began when he featured in our 1993 campaign to help sufferers of anophthalmia, an extremely rare condition where children are born with one eye, or none.

 

Little was known about the affliction before we highlighted it with an appeal which raised more than £25,000 to help victims.

 

We contributed an extra £10,000 - and one of the kids to benefit was Toby, from Blackheath, south London. He had started music therapy at just 18 months old and quickly showed he could pick up tunes by ear.

 

His parents, Kelly Ott and Barry Stickings, couldn't afford £2,000 to buy him a piano until we chipped in with extra cash.

 

Now he has even composed several works which have been published in Braille, meaning other blind pianists can play them. And he is planning to go even further with his studies at London's Goldsmiths College.

 

 

PLEA - Our story in 1993

 

Proud dad Barry, 48, said: "We always knew he'd do well. He proves the condition doesn't have to hold you back.

 

"We're grateful to the News of the World for helping us. That piano is still his pride and joy."

 

Anophthalmia occurs in around 1 in 100,000 births and research into its causes is still going on. Barry is chairman of MACS, the Micro and Anophthalmic Children's Society, which provides support for suffering kids and their parents.

 

But, for Toby, his greatest triumph is living life to the full.

 

"It's not just the piano," he said, "I'm also pretty good on the Playstation. Most of the time I beat my sighted friends."

 

SOURCE: www.newsoftheworld.co.uk

 

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