A KEEN musician who was confined to a wheelchair following a stroke is hoping to march with his town band at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

Bob Hayton, 60, of Bridge Hill, near Consett, County Durham, wants to join Spennymoor Town Band at the gala on July 12, just 18 months after suffering a stroke.

A member of various North-East bands since he was a teenager Mr Hayton, of Chaytor Road, hopes to be joined by his four children who also play instruments.

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He said: “I recently had a severe stroke and I am getting over it with help. I’m an avid bandsman and I aim to play in the gala this year.

“When I couldn’t play due to my stroke I was clamouring to get back in a band. When I went along to Spennymoor Town Band for the first time they gave me some music to follow.

“At the next session they gave me a trumpet but I couldn’t do anything with it but they stuck with me.

“Last year my wife pushed me to the gala and I met some old colleagues and it was a fabulous. It was marred only by the fact that I couldn’t play an instrument.

“I hope to march through Spennymoor and Durham with the band at this year’s gala and I can’t put into words what that means.”

The former civil servant joined Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band in 1963. Since then he has performed in several bands including at Langley Park, Ferryhill, Lanchester and Esh Winning and at the gala.

Mr Hayton, who plays the cornet, tenor horn, euphonium and baritone, was treated at the University Hospital of North Durham and Bishop Auckland Hospital.

He will play one handed as the stroke has left him unable to use one of his arms.

He hopes his children Yasmine, 19, Amanda, 38, and Calvin, 18, who are all Spennymoor band members, together with his other son Anthony, 36, will join him on the gala march.

He will use the event to raise money for the stroke unit at Bishop Auckland Hospital. Members of the Consett Stroke Club will also help with the fundraising.

Brian Yates, Spennymoor band secretary, said: “I’ve known him for years. I used to visit him in hospital and I pick him up to go to the band. He’s made great progress and it’s his hope to walk at the gala.

“You have to be very proud of what he has achieved and you have to be really pleased for him.”