Sunderland schoolboy to feature in documentary about music and living with half a heart

Tom Smith performing at the SAFC fan zone
Tom Smith performing at the SAFC fan zone
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A Wearside schoolboy has spoken candidly of his struggles with a life-limiting heart condition for a documentary.

Being born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, which means the left side of his heart is severely underdeveloped, has put some limitations on Tom Smith’s ability to play sport, meaning he can’t pursue his initial dreams of being a footballer.

Instead the 12-year-old from East Rainton discovered a talent for music, which has seen him share the stage with chart-toppers James Bay and Catfish and the Bottlemen and play festivals including Glastonbury and T in the Park.

He was even spotted by Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess who invited him to play his Tim Peaks Diner stage at Kendal Calling.

Now the Houghton Kepier pupil has spoken about his love of music and living with the restrictive condition for film-makers Libra Television, whose past work has been awarded an International Emmy award and three Bafta nominations.

They’ve made a short film with Tom and his family which they’ll be pitching to commissioners in the hopes of making a more in-depth documentary on the school boy’s journey.

Tom Smith at Kendal Calling

Tom Smith at Kendal Calling

Speaking in the film, Tom, who’s undergone operations due to the condition, says: “The oldest person with my condition is 27. They’ve only been able to operate for the past 20/30 years which makes me feel pretty lucky to have been born in the past twenty years, because without it I wouldn’t be here today.”

As part of the film, Tom also performs a track called I’ve Got Scars, which he penned himself about his condition and how it affects his daily life.

Director David Barnes said: “We found out about Tom via Tim Burgess’ twitter and we thought he’d make a great subject for a documentary as he’s a great young musician.

“Tom’s story is really inspiring because he’s doing his own thing, not following the X Factor route, and writes his own music while also doing covers of bands.

“On top of that there’s the difficulties he overcomes every day, like walking around his village which can leave him out of breath, things we take for granted.”

Though the short film was shot at home, and features footage of Tom supporting Catfish and the Bottlemen at Newcastle’s O2 Academy, the longer film would follow Tom on the festival circuit as he entertains the crowds.