A young boy who was told he would never talk has defied doctors by finding his voice – thanks to former X Factor star Olly Murs.
William Smedley, 11, was born with autism, epilepsy and severe learning difficulties which left him suffering over sixty seizures a day.
Parents Jemma, 38, and Richard, 41, were left devastated after being told he would probably never be able to speak or even walk.
But, three years ago, the youngster stunned his family by signing along to the chart-topper’s first album.
Breakthrough: William Smedley stunned his family when it transpired that listening to Olly Murs had been a form of music therapy
Over the months that followed the songs became a catalyst for William – who had previously been unable to ask for water – finding the confidence to speak.
And now the schoolboy has finally had the chance to meet his hero.
Heartwarming pictures show Olly warmly embracing William outside Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena, earlier this month.
‘William had really struggled to communicate before discovering Olly, said Mrs Smedley.
‘We’d had all sorts of different speech therapy, but the problem was that William never really had an interest in anything. There wasn’t anything for him to talk about.
‘But one day that all changed. We were driving to my mum and dad’s and he just came out with ‘bacon and eggs’ from the Olly Murs’ song Busy.’
Meeting the muse: William got the chance to meet the catalyst behind his transformation
Sounds good: According to the British Association for Music Therapy – involvement in music making can both stimulate and relax a person leading to very positive changes
‘Richard and I just looked at each other. William’s short-term memory always used to be horrific, so the fact that he’d remembered the words was just incredible.
‘In one of Olly’s songs it says ‘you’ve got the lock, I’ve got the key’ and it felt like we had found William’s key and unlocked the little boy in there.
Impressively, the singer’s music has also helped William overcome other difficulties in his life, meaning he can now walk and even dance.
It’s not clear what exactly caused the breakthrough, but – according to the British Association for Music Therapy – involvement in music making can both stimulate and relax a person leading to very positive changes.
In part, due to the process of turn taking with lyrics, helping a child to listen and strengthening muscles that improve co-ordination.
Difficult times: William pictured in hospital undergoing an E.E.G for his numerous daily fits
Pictured with his mother: William is also now able to dance and sing thanks to his hobby
Mrs Smedley, a community support worker, added: ‘He started watching the music videos and learning the dancing. He even won his school’s talent competition last year.
‘Dancing along to his songs has certainly improved William’s movement and confidence. Even the way he speaks now is clearer.’
He used to know that people couldn’t understand him, and looked over at me wanting me to translate. For years people would ask what he was saying, but now he has got the confidence.
‘He’s found that little thing he never had.’
The moment it all changed: The youngster pictured around the time he first found his voice
Dedicated fan: In recent years William has further developed his skills with the pop star’s help