Charlotte White, 23, from Leckhampstead in Buckinghamshire is an Etac Balder powerchair owner who has entered the music charts with her fellow Paraorchestra musicians performing the single ‘True Colours’, following their appearance in the Paralympics closing ceremony.
Charlotte is an inspirational individual who lives with severe Osteoporosis. She is a regular member of the newly formed Paraorchestra and is studying for a degree in Criminology and Social Policy at The University of Kent, Canterbury. Since 2011, she has used an Etac Balder F290 powerchair to provide daily mobility and which continues to deliver ‘life changing’ assistance throughout her University career and home life. Scandinavian designed and engineered, Etac powerchairs are renowned for world-leading ergonomics, reliability and functionality and Charlotte’s model has already allowed her to perform at Glastonbury, The Queen Elizabeth Halls (Southbank, London) and during the 2012 Paralympics.
One of the main lifestyle benefits Charlotte has gained through ownership of an Etac powerchair is the ability to engage with people at eye level through a seat raise function. This has been crucial during University life and has given her the ability to access areas such as high shelves in study rooms, or bars when out socialising with friends as her standing capabilities are limited. Away from her studies, she plays music electronically via her iPad and Touch OSC page technology. Charlotte composes sounds, rhythms and beats with Ableton to deliver unique and engaging music for the Paraorchestra.
Founded by British conductor Charles Hazlewood in June 2012, the British Paraorchestra is a pioneering global movement that recognises and showcases disabled musicians with extraordinary abilities. Its mission is to “end the limitations placed on them (people with disabilities), not by their physical ability but by lack of opportunity.” Following the Paraorchestra’s remarkable performance at the Paralympics which has achieved global recognition, this new group of talented musicians are aiming to achieve further success by claiming the UK Christmas music charts number one. Their rendition of ‘True Colours’ was released on Monday 3 December 2012, to coincide with the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities and features The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children and the voices of ParalympicsGB. Proceeds from record sales will go towards supporting these contributors and the future growth and development of the Paraorchestra.
2012 has been a highly memorable year for Charlotte as she explains: “I am so delighted to have joined the Paraorchestra – it has delivered so many memorable moments. Being involved with music once more following a gap of four years has made such a difference to my life and having the honour of playing at the Paralympics was simply out of this world. We may have rehearsed in an unglamorous Dagenham car park for many hours, however even this was more like an exclusive free concert with bands such as Coldplay practicing alongside us. I was given the responsibility of leading the Paraorchestra into the Olympic stadium in my Etac powerchair and will never forget the rush of excitement I experienced when seeing the audience and sensing the electric atmosphere.
To play on a stage with millions of viewers worldwide watching provided us with huge exposure and we are now aiming to continue this momentum with the launch of the single. In addition to the funds we aim to raise for the Kaos choir and ParalympicsGB, we are hopeful that ‘True Colours’ will encourage more disabled musicians to join us. Our conductor Charles Hazlewood is a real inspiration and I would recommend performing under his leadership to any musician with a disability. To achieve the Christmas number one would be the ultimate result in a quite unbelievable year.”
Charlotte is currently studying in the final year of her degree, learning to pilot a glider and continues to enjoy life with her Etac Balder F290 powerchair. Charlotte concludes: “My Etac powerchair takes me everywhere and I would not have been able to complete all my studies or Paraorchestra achievements without it. The seat raise function is so important to me as eye level contact is vital when debating academically or engaging with friends in a social capacity. I have taken my powerchair to several concerts and outdoor festivals over the last 18 months whether I have been performing or not and it has coped with some fairly difficult, muddy conditions! I know it is a specialist powerchair that isn’t specifically designed for this type of off road terrain, nevertheless it has coped with driving over many fields and the battery range has never let me down. As I progress towards my Graduation in June 2013, I am already considering my future outside of academia, which may involve speech therapy or counseling. I know my Etac Balder will give me the ability to fulfill my career and ever since first hearing about these models when I was 12, I knew it was the powerchair to choose.”
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