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Lucy Hale Obituary

February 18, 2021

My daughter, Lucy Hale, who has died aged 26, was a composer who worked to help young disabled musicians to write and perform music.

Diagnosed with a neuromuscular disability at a young age, Lucy had to use a wheelchair and often required ventilatory support. Despite being physically unable to play an instrument and needing 24-hour care to support her independent living, she secured a number of commissions to write music, including with the national arts charity Drake Music. This led to a collaboration whereby she trained as a mentor to work with disabled and neurodiverse young people, supporting them to realise their creative skills.

Later she was appointed inaugural associate composer with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Resound project, the world’s first disabled-led ensemble, and was subsequently composer in residence at the National Orchestra for All, which brings together 100 young musicians who would not normally get the opportunity to make music with others.Advertisement

Working with the National Orchestra for All was a source of particular pride and pleasure to Lucy, for while she took great joy from her own composing she was thrilled to be able to support and encourage other young musicians, and would constantly champion their achievements. She responded to all her achievements with great humility and a measure of disbelief.

Lucy was born in Thornton Heath, south London, to me and my husband, John Mellor, both of us social workers. Despite her disabilities, Lucy always showed a great determination of spirit, and from a young age had a real desire to experience new adventures. She was a keen dressage rider until forced to give up following spinal surgery.

After repeated admissions to intensive care during her early teens, Lucy attended Treloar’s residential school in Alton, Hampshire. She thrived there, and found a talent for musical composition, nurtured by her teacher, Jocelyn Watkins, who drew Lucy to the attention of the Royal College of Music junior department, where she was offered a place to study composition. From there Lucy went on to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, graduating with a BMus and an MMus with distinction.

Lucy was a passionate and powerful advocate for the disabled community and a fierce defender of the NHS and its guiding principles. She was an inspiration to many, and her paediatric respiratory consultant often played her music to colleagues and students “to show them why we battle to save children with neuromuscular problems and to demonstrate what they are capable of achieving”.

She was on the Royal Philharmonic Society Composers programme, and was about to begin a PhD studying assistive technology in music. The outpouring of affection and acclaim for Lucy has been overwhelming, reflecting the profound impact she had on those who had the privilege of knowing and working with her.

She is survived by me and John, and by her older sister, Eleanor.

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