A schoolboy born with a rare heart condition has gone on to share the stage with some of the country’s top musicians.
Having half a heart means Sunderland fan Tom Smith, 11, can’t pursue a career with his beloved football, so he has thrown himself into music.
The East Rainton youngster has performed with the likes of chart-topper James Bay, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Hyde & Beast and Frankie & the Heartstrings, and taken to the stage at festivals including Glastonbury, T in the Park and Corbridge.
The music media have also picked up on the Houghton Kepier pupil’s talent and he’s been featured in North East and national reviews.
The promising singer and guitarist also uses his music to help charity Little Hearts Matter, which has supported the youngster through several lifesaving operations.
He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left side of his heart is severely underdeveloped.
Today Tom has regular check-ups with specialists, and has to be careful with physical activity, which would put a strain on his heart, but he has never let it stand in his way.
“Supporting Catfish and the Bottlemen at the O2 Academy in front of 2,500 people was probably the biggest gig so far,” he said.
“I was petrified before that one, but other than that, I don’t really get nervous,” said Tom, who’s just left East Rainton Primary School.
“Playing with James Bay backstage at T in the Park was pretty cool, we did five songs altogether.
“When I go into school and tell my friends what I’ve done that weekend they don’t believe me, I have to show them the videos.”
This year Tom played one of the smaller stages at Glastonbury, and he says he dreams of playing the coveted Pyramid stage one day.
“At Glastonbury there was only about 15 people in the tent at first,” he said. “Then when I finished there was about 250. I’d love to play the Pyramid stage one day, but also Metro Radio Arena.”
The youngster, who lives with dad Andrew and mum Julie, both 39, comes from a musical family.
He has a gig lined up in Tynemouth with sister Hannah, nine, who sings and plays piano, and brother Luke, 14, is in a soul and rock band.
Tom’s currently having music lessons from Barry Hyde, of The Futureheads, but began guitar under the tutelage of bassist Christopher McCourtie, formerly of North East outfit Detroit Social Club, who now tours with James Bay in his road crew.
Dad Andrew, who runs car dealership TRG Houghton, said: “We couldn’t be more proud. We’re all big music fans and it’s my dream to have my children do well in music.
“All the bands have been so supportive of Tom and really helped him with his music. They really take the time out for Tom and then stand and watch him perform.”
l To keep up with Tom’s gigs follow him on Twitter @tommousesmith33