Serenade to disabled brother a YouTube sensation

Mark McMullan with brother Declan who has Locked-in Syndrome
Mark McMullan with brother Declan who has Locked-in Syndrome

The father of a 22-year-old man with Locked-in Syndrome has told of his pride and shock that a short YouTube video of his youngest son Mark serenading his brother Declan has “become an online sensation”.

John McMullan from Crossgar said the short video of 19-year-old Mark singing ‘Bring Him Home’ from the hit musical Les Miserables to his brother in The Villager Inn, Crossgar, was “taken off the cuff on a night out”.

“And after it was uploaded to YouTube the reaction was amazing. At the start I didn’t know what YouTube was, but I sure know now.

“Mark does his best and it is heartbreaking,” added Mr McMullan.

The 47-year-old businessman and father-of-four said Declan suffered a cardiac arrest when he was 19 which resulted in brain damage and severe physical disability.

Declan, who is unable to eat, speak, move or see and is confined to a wheelchair, communicates by blinking.

“But Declan, who is now 22-years-old is fully cognitive – he can talk to you with his eyes,” said his father.

“It is a question of us calling out the alphabet and him blinking at the letter he wants to use. He spells out the word and it can be frustrating.”

Mr McMullan said Declan suffered a cardiac arrest at his Co Down home on March 16 2012 as a result of an underlying heart condition known as Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome.

He spent 65 weeks in hospital before returning home to be cared for by his family.

A scene from the video that was shot on a night out in Crossgar

A scene from the video that was shot on a night out in Crossgar

As a result of the brain damage he sustained, Declan suffers from Locked-in Syndrome.

“Life has moved on for everyone so we try to take Declan out every weekend for a laugh because he still has a great sense of humour,” said Mr McMullan.

“Declan had been hoping to study TV and Media at Coleraine university and is close to his younger brother Mark and older brother Daniel and his wee sister.

“Declan can still tell you all about films and when they were made. That is his life and he still listens to them.

“We got a new Smart TV which basically talks to him and describes what is going on.”

Mr McMullan said his “biggest fear is something happening to us” and not being able to take care of Declan.

“We keep Declan getting out and about to meet his friends and trying to keep him positive,” he added.

“Come the weekend Mark takes Declan out. My wife and I work and we have carers to look after Declan until 6pm and then it is down to us.”

Mr McMullan said Mark “has been singing on a local level for some time”.

“He sang in Downpatrick choral society, with Peter Corry in the Waterfront Hall and many other places,” he said.

“Mark was never trained formally but he can sing anything.

“Although he loves music he decided not to do it for a career as he wanted to enjoy it and relax with it I suppose,” he added.

“He is now studying architecture at the University of Ulster.”

On Wednesday night Mark McMullan sang his rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ on Nolan Live on BBC One.