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Soul singer Barrie Stradling performs with ‘rewired brain’ for Headway East London dance marathon

PUBLISHED: 11:53 30 November 2015 | UPDATED: 11:53 30 November 2015

Barrie Stradling at Headway East London's brain recovery centre, ready for charity's dance marathon

Barrie Stradling at Headway East London's brain recovery centre, ready for charity's dance marathon

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Soul artist Barrie Stradling had to learn to sing again after a hit-and-run road incident nine years ago.

But now the 57-year-old who has been volunteering with Headway East London brain injury centre is to perform at the charity’s annual eight-hour dance marathon.

Headway's Barrie Stradling when he's belting out Soul on stageHeadway's Barrie Stradling when he's belting out Soul on stage

He is on stage at the fundraiser with his Soul of a Lion band at the Southbank Centre near Waterloo on December 13.

Barrie had just left a pub in Mile End one evening in November, 2006, crossing with the lights green for pedestrians, when he says he was hit by a car that didn’t stop.

“I was knocked straight up in the air,” Barrie recalls.

“I fell on my head, fracturing my skull and went into a coma—I was spark out.”

Headway East London's Barrie Stradling gets ready for 8hr dance marathon at Southbank Centre, December 13Headway East London's Barrie Stradling gets ready for 8hr dance marathon at Southbank Centre, December 13

The coma lasted six weeks and it was 17 weeks before Barrie could finally leave hospital.

“I could still sing, but my memory was all over the place,” he adds. “I had to use typed lyrics, which I never, ever did before.

“I used to sing anywhere with anyone. I could do 80 songs from memory.

“But the brain rewires itself as a different thing—now I just know bits and bobs.”

Barrie went through months of recovery treatment at Headway’s day-centre behind Shoreditch Church to get his life back on track.

He started volunteering and continued when the charity moved four years ago to its new centre in Kingsland Road, by the Regent’s Canal.

It helps him to know he is able to befriend others who have had the same type of difficulties.

Headway is that sort of community, where people come to be with friends that they have made, a place where you cannot tell the staff from volunteers or those having treatment, which he feels “adds to the atmosphere”.

But this unique support network is desperate for funds to provide the vital services for brain injury recovery.

So Barrie is performing the 1980s part of the eight-hour December 13 dance marathon at the Southbank Centre, which takes the sponsored dancers on a musical journey through the decades from the 1930s to present day.

Other acts with period dance music include Swing Patrol, Electro Swing, Afro Cuban, Headphone Disco, Glitter Dare and Street Dance XXL.


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