Playing a moving rendition of ‘Come What May’ from musical ‘Moulin Rouge’, Abigail Punchard proved her extraordinary musical capabilities and natural talent at the Anglican Alliance fundraising event, ‘An evening for special people’.
Her performance was a key part of the evening which focussed on the Alliance’s work to develop programmes to support people with disabilities affected by emergencies.
Explaining the Alliance’s work following its visit to the Zambia refugee camp of Mayukwayukwa, Archbishop Albert Chama, urged guests, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, to bestow on people with disabilities “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).“
And CMS Mission Associate Susie Hart, who set up ‘Neema Crafts’, shared her experience of working with people with disabilities in Tanzania including some wonderful stories of transformation, which highlighted the importance of Alliance work in supporting those most marginalised and changing perceptions of disability.
Abigail challenged perceptions of disability with her performance using Soundbeam technology, which was designed and created in Bristol, UK. Abigail demonstrated the ways in which a person’s ability can be celebrated and how new technology has made music accessible to all. The technology is used widely at Victoria Education Centre where Abigail studies, and the Centre’s Soundbeam technician Mike Whitlock was also on hand to explain the mechanism and demonstrate the technology which is based on generating music through intersection a beam emitted from a special piece of new technology.
Dinner guests were stunned by Abigail’s proficiency and the quality of her musical performance, with demands for an encore and many taking the time after the event to find out more about her music and Soundbeam, asking questions as to the more widespread access to Soundbeam technology for other wheelchair users and those with special needs.
The Anglican Alliance is planning to take forward the work for people with disabilities by developing guidance and training for church development agencies, supporting carers, and producing some innovative products. These programmes are currently subject to a series of funding bids to international donors.