BELOVED radio presenter Huw Williams was diagnosed with a rare muscular disorder, days before his performance in front of legendary Bruce Springsteen. Now he's getting ready to play at the Tredegar House Folk Festival in Newport.

Huw Williams, folk superstar from Brynmawr in Blaenau Gwent, was on his way to performing at the Tredegar House Folk Festival in May. However he has now been diagnosed with a disorder affecting the nerves, called 'dystonia'.

How did Huw Williams get dystonia?

“It’s something that creeps up on you,” said Huw, when talking about the disorder which causes involuntary muscle spasms in both his throat and his fingers.

“I couldn’t play things I used to find easy. And my voice would crack and crackle in the oddest places," Huw added, "but it became so much a part of me that I didn’t realise how bad it had got - and that I really needed serious medical help.”

The songwriter turned to radio presenting, which gave him the opportunity to travel to the USA to interview Pete Seeger, who wrote the music to ‘The Bells Of Rhymney’ and Roger McGuinn, whose band The Byrds had a 60's hit with the song.

Huw later found out that the three musicians would be joined by the legendary Bruce Springsteen, which Huw said "was a huge deal".

"I, South Wales born and bred, would talk about the song, we’d play a bit and sing a bit."

Having to cope with his muscle spasms, Huw tried "not to use my right index finger which seemed the one most likely to lose control. I thought I was doing OK when, a few days before I was due to fly out, my producer said, ‘What on earth’s happened to your voice?’ ”

A series of events meant that Huw met Seeger and McGuinn, but Springsteen couldn't make it. But this event forced him to come to terms with the fact that he needed to seek urgent medical help.

Huw was given injections and vitamins which helped to keep the spasms at bay, while trying to rebuild his guitar technique as well as his singing abilities, which he calls "almost a decade of physical and emotional strain".

Huw Williams made a breakthrough in December 2023 when he used a different part of his vocal chords on radio.

"After learning to speak and sing from my diaphragm rather than my throat, I broadcast a Christmas monologue on Radio Wales,” said Huw, adding: “I worked so hard to get the inflections just right, but every word was a trial…would my voice crack? Thank goodness it held.”

The next test for Huw will be in May as he is set to perform on the big stage in Newport, at the Tredegar Park Folk Festival which takes place on Sunday, May 12, 2024.

“Fingers crossed, it will be a marvellous recreation of the best of me,” said Huw, adding “But there’s no cure for what I have, it can return at any time, so if the audience sees me punch the air at the end, they’ll know I’ve got through it unscathed. It’ll be a very, very emotional event."