Award-winning teenager Howard Weyman won’t let something like Tourette’s Syndrome stand in the way of his dreams of being an opera singer.
The 14-year-old Avon Valley School student was born to sing, but the condition - which causes tics and obsessions - put Howard off developing his talent.
Yet now, having worked with celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone, he’s pursuing his dream once again – and hopes others can follow his example.
Howard said: “My advice to others is don’t give up.”
Howard’s mother Catherine, of Shearwater Drive, said: “He always had a very beautiful voice and loved to sing, but was very nervous about how others would perceive him when he was struggling to control or supress his tics.
“For a long time, this held him back and put him off performing.”
Catherine said her son displayed symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome when he was a toddler.
He developed tics and had obsessions.
“When Howard was six he was fixated with lawnmowers,” added Catherine.
“Doctors thought it was Asperger’s Syndrome.”
Most people who are diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome have a combination of physical and vocal tics, which can be both simple and complex.
Catherine said: “He very rarely swears, but he has been known to. Howard’s tics are more motor tics.”
Life took a turn three years ago when Howard was selected to work with Gareth Malone and other professionals in the production of the original The Big Performance.
“Working with Gareth raised Howard’s self-esteem and gave him the confidence to overcome his fear of ticing in front of an audience and put aside thoughts of what others might make of his tics,” added Cathy.
“Shortly after completing the filming of the series, Howard’s voice began to break. It took quite some time to gradually find his new voice, which is still developing.”
Singing lessons revealed an impressive new baritone voice.
He also attends Future Faces Performing Arts School in Lutterworth which is helping him to develop his performance skills.
Howard enjoyed playing the lead role of Oliver Warbucks in the recent production of ‘Annie’ at Rugby School.
He has won a number of cups and trophies an has been awarded the Laurence Jarvis Memorial Trophy Cup for the overall ‘most promising voice’.
Howard gained his place to perform in Birmingham on Saturday as a result of his outstanding performance in the Northfield Festival.
In the Nuneaton Festival of Arts vocal section, Howard competed against adults, winning two first places, two second places and a third place, singing a variety of musical styles including musical theatre, an Italian aria, sacred music, traditional folk and English composer pieces.
He hopes to attend the Royal Guildhall School of Music in London and to become an opera singer.
Howard, who plays the saxophone and piano, added:
“When I’m performing, my mind is on the song and music.”