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Grieving singer James Bradley in musical tribute to son

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Mr Bradley singing his tribute song to Daniel

Mr Bradley singing his tribute song to Daniel

Daniel Bradley (left) with his sisters and parents James and Janice

Daniel Bradley (left) with his sisters and parents James and Janice

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Mr Bradley singing his tribute song to Daniel

The heartbroken singer-songwriter father of a boy who died in September after being struck by a car on the Glenshane Pass has written a special song for his beloved son, who had non-verbal autism.

And James Bradley from Maghera has revealed that country and western stars in Nashville are putting on a tribute concert tomorrow night in memory of eight-year-old Daniel, nicknamed Dan The Man by his family.

Money raised at the Radio Cafe show will go towards the local charities Families with Autism Coming Together for Support (FACTS) and Assistance Dogs for NI, who helped the youngster.

A total of £14,000 has been collected so far by James and his wife Janice, who say they are still struggling to cope with their loss, as are Daniel's sisters Lucy, Emily and Katy, who are aged between seven and 13.

In an interview with Radio Ulster's John Toal at the weekend Mr Bradley, who had just finished recording an album with the likes of Paul Casey and Eilidh Patterson before Daniel's death, said music had a special place in his home.

Only 10 days before Daniel's death Mr Bradley had spoken on the John Toal show about a song he'd written about the suicide of his brother Alex 13 years ago and about the big impact that assistance dog Ebony had made on his son's life.

But Mr Bradley said that a number of the tracks on his album have taken on new meaning since the tragedy.

He said he was finding it hard to get back into performing at live gigs, but that he was planning a concert in the Burnavon Theatre in Cookstown to officially launch the album.

Mr Bradley said his family were still trying to keep Daniel alive in their home by talking about him and remembering what he did. "It's difficult for the girls to understand that he's in Heaven and that it's going to be a long time before we see him again," said Mr Bradley.

He said Daniel was "fun", but his autism meant his ability to process things was different. "I'm very sure he knew what he wanted to say but he just couldn't articulate it," he said.

He added: "He didn't need to know about Belfast or Dublin or America. Everything he did was here."

Mr Bradley said it took Daniel's loved ones a long time after his diagnosis with autism to understand what was happening with him. "But he taught us a lot about patience and how to deal with situations and seeing things differently," he added.

He said he and his wife had worried about what would happen to Daniel after they were gone, insisting: "A child with special needs grows into an adult with special needs."

Mr Bradley said Daniel's passing meant their new stress was the grief and realisation that they would never see him again. "That's very hard to deal with", said Mr Bradley, who described his music as his "go-to place" where he could counsel himself.

Mr Bradley gave up a full-time job in retail management several years ago to concentrate on his singing and his family, using music therapy to help Daniel.

"He sang all the time. It was beautiful," said Mr Bradley, who after Daniel's death posted a video of his son singing his favourite song, Fix You by Coldplay.

He said he was touched by the support people here and across the world had given him and his family after the tragedy.

Mr Bradley said that he didn't pick up a guitar for five weeks afterwards.

He said playing the instrument was the last thing he'd been doing before he heard what happened to his son outside a service station on the Glenshane Road. Because he associated the guitar with the trauma, he started playing the piano.

"For the last 11 weeks I have been playing the piano every day. And it's lovely because music is such a focal part of our house."

Mr Bradley hasn't revealed any more details about the song he has written for Daniel, but he said songwriting was like a coping mechanism. "The best therapy, I find, is the music," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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