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Violin maestro jumps his hurdles
Violin maestro jumps his hurdles

Patrick Rego plays his violin from "the heart".

The 83-year-old has lost both his hearing and sight but still plays with the skill of a concert master.

Classical pieces are no longer in his repertoire since his failing sight left him unable to read music decades ago but favourites - from waltzes to hits of the 40s and 50s - are logged in his memory bank.

The accomplished musician lost part of his hearing as a young boy to a Japanese bomb in his homeland of Burma.

Mr Rego progressively lost more hearing over the next 50 years and could not afford hearing aids until he turned 65 and qualified for assistance as a pensioner.

"With two hearing aids, everything is crystal clear," he said.

The father-of-four, who fled to Australia as a refugee in 1969, later contracted glaucoma but by the time he sought medical help he was left with just 3 per cent vision.

Mr Rego broke both wrists in a fall walking to church two years ago and for eight months he could not play his violin and feared his musical days were over.

Then his ageing violin fell apart and he could not afford the repairs.

The Senses Foundation, which helps deaf-blind people, bought him a new instrument and, with the foundation's help, he still performs at church and aged-care centres.

Mr Rego will be one of hundreds of West Australians celebrating International Deaf Blind Awareness Week from today.