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Soprano with sight loss shortlisted for Coronavirus Hero Award

Anne Wilkins, a blind soprano who wowed neighbours and people across the country when she sang on her doorstep during the Clap For NHS workers.

A blind woman from Bridgend has been shortlisted for an RNIB See Differently ‘Coronavirus Heroes’ Award after she used her singing talent to help lift the spirits of her neighbours, as well as strangers far and wide, during the pandemic.

Anne Wilkins, 67, has been blind since birth due to retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that can develop in premature babies.

In May, during a ‘clap for the NHS’, Anne sang a mesmerising rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on her doorstep. She was accompanied by her great friend Sian Davies on keyboard and her neighbour, West End actor Alyn Hawke, filmed her recital and shared it online.

The heart-warming video went viral on Twitter and Facebook within hours of being posted and was seen by people across the UK.

Anne is an accomplished musician and soloist, whose musical highlight was winning the prestigious David Ellis Memorial Blue Riband at the National Eisteddfod in 2012.

Anne is also a dedicated volunteer who runs a music group for blind and partially sighted people in Bridgend, teaches Braille classes and is a member of an RNIB Task Group which works to improve the accessibility of Braille music.

According to Anne, “We posted it and it had 62,000 views, I couldn’t believe it! Since then the views have rocketed, and I’ve had to stop counting now.

“My neighbours all said how much they enjoyed the singing and it brought them all together and after the first time I sang, they asked for more.”

The RNIB See Differently Awards – Coronavirus Heroes aim to shine a spotlight on the people and organisations who have stepped up to help, support and find solutions to the challenges faced by people with sight loss during the pandemic. It also aims to recognise those blind and partially sighted people who have gone above and beyond to help others get through these uncertain times.

RNIB Head of Marketing Lorna Forbes said: “Although 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, there have been some amazing acts of kindness and support that have played a significant role in helping others though a tough time.

“Our awards recognise these amazing achievements and say thank you to these outstanding individuals and organisations. We wish all of our finalists the very best of luck.”

The awards celebrate entries across three categories – Best Community Contribution, Best Corporate Response, and Best Media Impact. Voting for the winner of each category is now open and people can place their vote by phone or online by visiting: https://www.rnib.org.uk/see-differently-awards/vote

To vote for Anne by phone, text HERO 1 to 70100

All votes are free and voting closes on Tuesday 24 November.