Warwickshire choir leader’s beloved music brought him life again

The Midland Voice Choir.
The Midland Voice Choir.

A musical director who had a close brush with death received a standing ovation when he returned to conduct his first concert since his recovery began.

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

The 64-year-old, who lives in Balsall Common, had to undergo 12 operations and, because he very quickly developed clots in his left leg, had to have it amputated - and he spent two weeks in a coma.

Six months on, 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. He said: “I woke up in a lot of pain and eventually called an ambulance. They took me to Warwick Hospital, but then I had to be 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 left leg had been removed. But I didn’t take it so badly. Removing my leg helped to save my life, so to me, it was a no-brainer. I can learn to walk again.”

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. He said: “While I was unconscious, my wife Carol played some of the music I had started to rehearse with the choir before I had had the aneurysm. I started to whistle and then mouth the words. I have no recollection.

“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. So it is no surprise that although he still requires a 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 email Barry at toddmuso@hotmail.co.uk