World's longest Covid sufferer stages come-back gig in Bristol – BBC

The "miracle man" who was infected with Covid for more than 10 months has staged a come-back concert with some help from the English National Opera.
Dave Smith, from Bristol, had Covid for nearly 300 days – longer than anyone else recorded in the world.
The 73-year-old was hospitalised seven times and said he had "resigned" himself to dying.
But now the life-long musician is back on stage after some breath coaching from a professional opera singer.
Mr Smith described his experience of getting Covid in May 2020 as "like someone has pulled the plug and life is just draining out of your body".
He lost 10 stone (63.5kg) during his illness and was left barely able to walk or hold a conversation.
Mr Smith, a driving instructor by day and a lead singer by night, was finally cured after being offered a cocktail of antiviral drugs developed by a company in the US last summer.
Mr Smith's road to full recovery has been slow, and in the past year he has been admitted to hospital several times for breathing problems.
He can only do a few minutes of activity before sitting down, and until recently he was unable to do the thing he missed most in the world – singing.
Describing what performing again would mean to him before the course, Mr Smith told BBC Breakfast: "It would be like having my complete life back, I know I have got my physical life back but it would be my mental life as well."
He joked that when he sang he felt like a "squeezebox with all the air squeezed out".
Mr Smith was thrown a lifeline after being accepted onto a six-week breath work course developed by Suzie Zumpe of the English National Opera (EN) in partnership with Imperial College London.
Over 90% of people who take part say they have noticed an improvement in their symptoms and they would recommend it to other sufferers.
Jenny Mollica, director of ENO Breathe, said: "We know that opera singers are used to filling big auditoriums with their voice completely unamplified, so they understand breath control, they understand the physiology of breathing.
"What we are doing is working with some of that expertise to give them skills and strategies to manage their breathlessness post-Covid."
By Jon Kay
When I first met the retired driving-instructor in Bristol in June 2021, he had finally recovered from Covid after having the active virus in his body for more than 300 days – longer than anyone else on the planet.
He was still very frail and his lungs were badly damaged.
He could only walk a few steps before he needed to rest and he told me the thing he missed the most was singing.
For years, Dave had performed in pubs and clubs around Bristol, but it seemed his gigging days were over.
However, this autumn we filmed his progress for BBC Breakfast as he took part in online singing lessons through the ENO Breathe course for the NHS.
Dave was a little perplexed at first – some of the vocal exercises were "a bit weird" he said – but, over six weeks, the techniques he learned seemed to lead to a marked improvement in his lung capacity and his confidence.
It wasn't long before he decided he could fulfil his dream of getting back up on stage and performing with his band.
The gig itself was one of the best I've ever been to.
Not because of the music itself – Dave still struggles a bit with his voice – but the goodwill and love for Dave in the room was extraordinary.
Mr Smith said when doctors told him he only had 51% of his lung capacity, he thought his singing days were over.
But within weeks of finishing his breath course, he was planning his comeback.
He said then: "I'm pretty sure I can do it, singing makes you feel really happy and when it goes well it's such a buzz. The endorphins get going. It's absolutely brilliant."
Mr Smith and his band booked the Langley Arms pub near Bristol and on the night of the performance it was packed with friends and family.
They even raised some money for Southmead Hospital, where Mr Smith was treated, with a Christmas raffle.
His idol, Francis Rossi of Status Quo, even had a few words of advice.
The rock star told Mr Smith "to think of it as 'just another gig, that way you can do you and enjoy it. It will be fun.
Mr Smith said the call "boosted me right up".
Mr Smith's wife Lynda said: "You never would have thought it would have been possible – two years ago he was at death's door five times.
"He was determined to do it."
Step-son Rich Nicholls said: "He wasn't able to walk. We had to get the stair lift in just for him to be able to get upstairs.
"He could barely hold a conversation without being out of breath. It's amazing."
Suzie Zumpe of the ENO even showed up to do a duet.
Speaking after the gig, Mr Smith said: "It was great. It was a real rush and the crowd was behind me. I'm not 100% and it's taken it out of me.
"It'll probably be my last performance ever."
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