A throat cancer survivor who defeated the odds to become a singer has now found his voice all over again as an actor - and will tread the boards for the first time in September.
Driving instructor Ray Coates, who lives in Waddesdon, released charity single The Voice Within in 2014, after defying the odds to not only overcome throat cancer - but retain his ability to speak and sing.
At the time he said: “The joy of being able to put your emotions into music is like getting a second chance - it’s very nice to begin to create a body of work.”
The experience was a profound one for Ray, and he wanted to use his own positive story to inspire and help others.
And in the four years that have past Ray has continued to work on his music, collaborating with fellow songwriter Jade Lucas - but also joined an acting class at the Queens Park Arts Centre - where he discovered a love for acting too.
He said: “ I did a bit of acting for the video for The Voice Within - but when I went to the drama class I got even more of the bug.”
And starting on September, 7 Ray will appear in a play for the very first time, playing Tiresias the Blind Prophet in Greek tragedy Antigone - which is directed by Beatrice Benedek and will take placeQueen’s Park Arts Centre’s Limelight Theatre.
To prepare for the role Ray has also worked with Bucks Vision - which has given him a greater insight into the life of a blind person. Another challenge has come in the shape of the plays requirement of ‘unison speaking’ - which Ray has described as ‘challenging yet rewarding’.
He said: “Acting has really helped me to overcome inhibition, and I’ve found that I’ve been able to tap into lots of emotions because of the things I have experienced.
“I always thought acting was pretending, but it isn’t really. For me it is just the same as song writing - tapping into emotion. It’s also great to realise that at any point in life you can learn something new.”
He added: “I’ve spent some time with Lisa at Bucks Vision and she has been wonderful in helping me to understand what being blind is like.
“They are going to take me out for a blindfolded walk which is what they do with people who are going to be providing support there - it really gives you a different perspective.”
You can follow Ray on Twitter @RayCoatesVoice
For more on Queens Park Arts go to www.qpa.org