Plucky Helena is back on song

11-year-old St Aidan's pupil Helena Pye has had a ukulele specially adapted for her to play by her music teacher Phil  Dalton
11-year-old St Aidan's pupil Helena Pye has had a ukulele specially adapted for her to play by her music teacher Phil Dalton
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A ‘musically gifted’ girl born with one arm is strumming along with her friends thanks to a one-of-a-kind contraption.

Helena Pye, 11, is able to learn the ukulele thanks to her music teacher, Phil Dalton.

The Year 7 pupil at St Aidan’s High School felt left out when she was told she wouldn’t be able to play the instrument due to being born with her left arm only partially formed.

Phil said: “I could see that she was a bit down because she wasn’t able to join in with her friends.”

Determined to help Helena fulfil her true musical potential, Phil crafted a unique contraption to let her play alongside her pals.

The wooden device, which can easily be operated by Helena using her left arm, strums the ukulele’s strings.

Phil said: “It’s one of those things that means anybody with a partially-formed limb can use it.

“Inclusion is a very important thing in education and as a teacher you do everything in your power to make sure your children are included.

“It was a really nice surprise for Helena. Her eyes lit up and she said no one ever made an instrument for her before.

“She is quite musically gifted. She’s a phenomenal singer. She’s very confident in her singing.

“She’s been playing the ukulele and she’s been singing a few songs to accompany herself.

“Her mother told me that sometimes in life you have got to be prepared to tell them they are not going to be able to do something and she thought this was going to be one of those times, so she was really pleased.

“As a teacher you’ve got to make sure all your pupils are happy.”

Helena’s mum Katherine said: “Helena was surprised and overjoyed.

“It was a big thing for her because she doesn’t see herself as disabled. She sees herself as the same as everybody else.

“I think it’s really good. It’s something so small but it has a big impact on her wellbeing.

“Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to join in with fun activities.

“There have been times in the past where people haven’t given thought to her and she’s had to sit on the sidelines or change herself.

“This has given her the chance to join in with her friends, and it sets a good example to other students.”