Barry returns to choir after brush with death

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A Balsall Common music director returned to a standing ovation after conducting his first concert since recovering from a close brush with death.

Barry Todd, who founded the now 230-strong Midland Voice Choir, suffered a massive rupture to a major artery in October which left him in intensive care for almost three weeks.

The 64-year-old went on to have 12 operations, spent two weeks in a coma and had to have his left leg amputated after quickly developing clots.

But six months on, and with a remarkable recovery behind him, Mr Todd returned to conduct his beloved choir at a concert at Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “There was a standing ovation. It was very emotional.

“I was very lucky to have been given a second chance in life, so to be there was fantastic.”

Although Mr Todd was unconscious after he suffered the abdominal aortic aneurysm, he has a clear memory of the fateful morning when it happened. Recalling events, he said: “I woke up in a lot of pain and eventually called an ambulance.

“I was immediately transferred to the University Hospital in Coventry, where I had several operations, including one to remove my left leg.

“I wasn’t aware of any of it until afterwards and I remember the nurse telling me that my leg had been removed. But I didn’t take it so badly.

“It helped to save my life, so to me, it was a no-brainer. I can learn to walk again.”

But, after waking up from being in a week-long coma, Mr Todd - who has been playing the piano since he was four years old - soon developed pneumonia and slipped back into a coma for another week.

While unconscious, his wife Carol played some of the music he had been rehearsing with the choir before the aneurysm and the results were ‘miraculous’.

“I started to whistle and then mouth the words. I have no recollection,” he said.

“It’s quite amazing what music does to the brain.”

Mr Todd worked as a professional pianist and conductor for much of his life and, since retiring, has been running choirs as a hobby.

Although he still requires full-time care and has lost the use of his left leg, he is very keen to take part in more concerts this year.

He said: “I am planning to lead two charity concerts in November.

“Rehearsing for the concerts gives me a buzz, which helps with my recovery.

“Everybody in the choir is a fantastic person and they sing their hearts out.

“Doing these charity concerts are so worthwhile.”

Anyone who wants to get involved in the concerts can get in touch with Barry at