A YOUNG Monmouthshire woman devastated by severe epilepsy performed in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Nicola Vaughan, 24, a student from Abergavenny took to the stage on Monday, July 29, 2019, with the concert broadcast live on Radio 3.

She has been living with epilepsy since she was 14 years old and used to average around 156 seizures a day.

"At one point we asked for brain surgery, but unfortunately it was not an option for me," she said.

“They also found that as I was having so many seizures, my chances of Sudden Unexpected Death through Epilepsy (SUDEP) was high, which changed my life.”

South Wales Argus:

(Nicola Vaughan)

But amazingly, despite at times being unable to speak a full sentence due to her partial and absence seizures, she was still able to sing.

“I found solace in music, it was a way to escape when I was down and is a route to better times in my life,” she added.

“I’m unsure how I’d be as positive or be where I am now without it.”

Miss Vaughan's love for singing began at the age of 10, when she would sing at karaoke nights with her family, soon moving onto musical theatre as she got older.

She went to university to study music, at both Bristol and Manchester music colleges.

But her epilepsy was so severe when studying at Bristol, that she hit her head while doing a performance on stage for her course.

"My seizures were becoming longer lasting, around three and a half minutes, and by five minutes it can become fatal, or more likely to become perpetual, so I decided to transfer to a written course in music at Manchester," she said.


After a period of depression and anxiety, Miss Vaughan decided to stop counting her seizures and to instead live life and follow her dreams.

Miss Vaughan saw an advert online for basses and tenors for the BBC Proms, but applied as a soprano as she thought they might just need one.

“I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity like that,” she added.

“All those years ago when I was told how serious my epilepsy was, I had sworn I was going to take every opportunity I could find so I sent off an application to audition.

“On the day, I sang a Britney Spears song in front of Grace Rossier during a classical audition and forgot my lines because of nerves.

“I thought for sure I had lost my chance, but they called me back to tell me they wanted me to join.

“I still can’t believe it!”

Her seizures were still happening during rehearsals for the BBC Proms, and still battles with epilepsy to this day but is adamant to not let it stop her.

South Wales Argus:

(Nicola, second to the right in the front, with her BBC Proms group)

Miss Vaughan is currently doing an internship with Spinnup, Universal Music Group’s digital distribution company, and is hoping to work within the music industry.

"Who knows, in the future, maybe a little more singing too," she said.