Animals and music prove volunteer's driving passion

A blind volunteer and musician has dedicated himself to looking after animals and helping to entertain groups across the Capital.

Richard Chapple, 42, has had sight problems since childhood and is registered blind. But despite his limited vision, he has dedicated himself to helping others. This year he celebrates a decade of service at Gorgie City Farm.

A self-taught musician he has also entertained disabled groups and the elderly.

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Mr Chapple grew up in Drylaw and says he first started caring for animals when he went to school in the Lake District. He said: "I attended a wonderful school in the lovely Lake District for the best part of four years and it was thanks to my days there that I first took a huge interest in animal welfare with my task of caring for the rabbits."

Mr Chapple went on to study at Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham, and while living in the city he began to foster dogs with the RSPCA.

Fidget the Rottweiler, Tommy the greyhound and Fred the bullmastiff were just a few of the dogs in his care.

Mr Chapple, who has also lived in South Wales and Bristol, moved back to Edinburgh in 1993.

Since 2000, he has been volunteering in the Pet Lodge at Gorgie City Farm, which houses a variety of small animals including rabbits, tortoises, fish, birds and goats. There he feeds, cleans and grooms the animals.

But while he continues to pursue a career in animal welfare, he is also trying his hand at music and entertains elderly groups across the city.

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His housing support worker and friend, Peter Clarke, paid tribute, saying: "Richard is a very talented musician. He plays the piano and has a fine singing voice. He entertains on a voluntarily basis for several groups, mainly elderly and disabled."

Mr Chapple said: "Since I was around 20 years old I've been predominantly self-taught at playing keyboard and piano. In recent years, I have taught myself to sing and I largely perform my own renditions of many old familiar classics. This always goes down a treat with audiences and now I've written a few of my own songs."

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Much of Mr Chapple's inspiration comes from his late friend, Martin Lee James, who died over two years ago aged 37. They studied together at Queen Alexandra College.

"Martin gave me a huge amount of inspiration and a lot of tuition," he said. As well as performing for elderly and disabled groups in Craigmillar, Drylaw, Leith, Southside and Granton, Mr Chapple also gave up his Christmas Day to entertain residents at the Salvation Army in the Pleasance.

He said: "They often comment that I sing a lot of tear-jerking songs so I must do well