TWELVE-year-old Emily Carney has a big, sunny personality that no wheelchair is ever going to contain.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy might have claimed her physically, but her talent and ambitions distinguish her from the crowd.

And the singing, musical theatre-loving performer intends to use them to raise both awareness of the condition and funds for the charity that supports so many people like herself nationwide.

As such, she will be one of a number of people diagnosed with ‘MD’ taking part in a concert christened Spirit of Christmas in aid of Muscular Dystrophy UK.

It will take place in Hexham Abbey, on the evening of Tuesday, December 4.

A Year 7 pupil at nearby St Joseph’s Middle School, she has been a member of the school choir since she started there.

She also has private singing lessons with well-known singer and teacher Barbara Hignett and she’s now an enthusiastic member of the local Starz Performing Arts School.

Wicked is her favourite musical and she’s enjoying her first tastes of acting, she said, but it’s the singing she loves best. “I want to do a lot of singing when I’m older. I’d like to write as well.”

She will be joined on the night by members of her school choir and by one of her teachers, Carolyn Hagger, who during the summer helped organise a school music festival in support of the charity.

“Rather than just ask people for money, we decided to put on an event,” said Carolyn.

“Emily was fantastic – she went on Radio Newcastle to talk about it and to promote understanding of muscular dystrophy.”

Carolyn herself will be singing Baby Jesus Sleeps in a duet with Lee Falkingham, who otherwise treads the boards with Hexham Amateur Stage Society. “I told Lee nobody knows that song – not even me. So we’re doing it.”

Amy Huzzard, from Prudhoe, will be taking part too, flying the flag for her 10-year-old son Alby, who was diagnosed with Limb Girdle muscular dystrophy at just one.

“I’m terrified,” she admitted. “But I’m taking my lead from Emily. If she can do this, so can I.”

She said she was “randomly” singing with one of her son’s teachers, Ashleigh Humble. Their rendition of Joni Mitchell’s River will be ‘different’, she laughed.

Music graduate Alex Kennedy (21) is probably feeling a little more confident about his performance. Diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy when he was four, he is currently doing postgraduate research into the beneficial effects of singing on the physicality and psychology of those with genetic conditions such as MD.

He hasn’t chosen which pieces he’ll perform yet, but he said they would be songs that had motivated him during his journey learning to cope with the condition.

Pianist Alex Mitchell and polished local choir Antiphon will be performing too during the concert that has been sponsored by the Beaumont Hotel. Tickets can be bought through