“I’ve had asthma for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t properly diagnosed until I was about seven. Until then, the doctor just used to tell me I had ‘a wheeze’, and I’d end up in bed for weeks on end.
“It’s triggered by feathers, dust, cat hair, exercise and laughing. When I was a kid the real trigger was cold damp air, so growing up in Scotland was a bit of a pain! Colds and chest infections will very often mean I have asthma symptoms for a few days as well.
“Growing up, it wasn’t particularly scary because I always trusted my doctors. I knew exactly what was going on – what had caused my asthma symptoms and what it was doing to me physically. I think kids are pretty smart and pick these things up quickly.
“There was the odd thing I couldn’t do so well because of my asthma, like cross-country, but it’s all just part of who you are. Like having blonde or dark hair, having asthma for me is just part of my make-up.”
A passion for music
“I used to walk home from school with my friend Andrew and we were both learning the guitar so we started playing and writing songs together. We wrote hundreds of songs together like that - it was our thing, while everyone else was playing Nintendo. Music was always the most important thing in my life, but I never thought of it as the thing that would sustain me."
On the road
“Strange hotel rooms can be difficult if there’s dust, but that’s the same kind of thing I face at home. Sometimes when I’m on stage I’ll feel my chest tightening – I’ve used my inhaler on stage a few times – but in a way I feel I’ve actually got quite strong lungs because of the asthma. When I’m not having any symptoms they’re really powerful!
“There are bits of touring that can be boring, like when you’re sitting on a bus for hours on end. But then you get to stand on stage in front of thousands of people, in some of the most amazing locations in the world and you realise how privileged you are – I mean, what a wonderful thing to be able to do!”
- Find out more about how playing music can make it easier to deal with asthma
- Read our advice on managing your asthma at different stages of your life
Image (C) Andy Knowles