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Stairlift to heaven: Partially sighted 97-year-old in bid to become next Jimi Hendrix

Never too late: Mary, 97, has learned to play the guitar as part of a charity campaign endorsed by Stevie Wonder PICTURE: SWNS

A 97-YEAR-OLD woman with visual impairment reckons she ‘could be the next Jimi Hendrix’ after learning to play the guitar at the tender age of 96.

Mary Barsh says she is the ‘greatest guitar player in the world’ and that her life has been disrupted by her new-found enjoyment for practising the instrument.

She played her first gig as part of a charity campaign backed by music legend Stevie Wonder, which saw around 240 blind and partially sighted people learn how to play 1989 track Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty as part of an attempt at a Guinness World Record for the longest guitar lesson.

Londoner Mary said: ‘I am visually impaired which is a nuisance, but one of those things one just has to live with.

‘All I can say is that the guitar has given me so much enjoyment.

‘I just love practising. It’s strange really because most people hate to practice. But somehow I feel so drawn to it that it really disrupts my daily life.’

Music school The Guitar Social received backing from Stevie Wonder, as well as rock band The Cure, to launch the campaign that aims to teach blind and partially sighted people how to play the guitar.

Stevie Wonder, who was registered blind shortly after he was born, said: ‘It’s really important to make music accessible to all.

‘The ground-breaking Guinness World Records longest guitar lesson attempt is a great initiative.

‘It is a small stepping stone on the way to enabling the visually impaired to learn an instrument.

‘Who knows, there may be another Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix in the bunch.’

Backing: Music legend Stevie Wonder PICTURE: REX

Mary, from Pimlico, central London, was 96 when she started the programme and is the The Guitar Social’s oldest pupil.

She strummed her guitar alongside the other participants as part of the challenge led by The Guitar Social founder Thomas Binns.

The Guitar Social also secured the Guinness World Records title after the event for longest guitar lesson.

The 24-hour event on July 18 saw groups of blind people learn how to play guitar and ended with a grand finale where musicians of all ages played together in a mass gig.