See­ing a big­ger pic­ture

New record­ing by Lawn’s Tar­rant Fam­ily to ben­e­fit causes close to their eyes

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY PAUL HERRIDGE MARYSTOWN, N.L.

Bob Tar­rant was just a teenager when he first re­al­ized he had an is­sue with his eye­sight.

Back then, he of­ten tended goal when he and his friends played ball hockey.

“I used to no­tice there was shots com­ing from the side I wasn’t pick­ing up quickly,” he said. “At that point in time we didn’t know what it was.”

The Lawn na­tive, who re­tired in June af­ter a 31-year teach­ing ca­reer, would even­tu­ally come to learn he had re­tini­tis pig­men­tosa (RP), a group of hered­i­tary dis­or­ders im­pact­ing the retina. It af­fects roughly one in ev­ery 5,000 peo­ple world­wide, ac­cord­ing to the Retina Foun­da­tion of Canada.

Tar­rant, who has 11 sib­lings, says a num­ber of other fam­ily mem­bers also have RP, in­clud­ing two broth­ers.

In his younger days, the dis­or­der didn’t stop him from do­ing any­thing he wanted to do, Tar­rant says.

“The big­gest is­sue at an early age is night vi­sion, you lose your night vi­sion fairly quickly, and then it’s your pe­riph­eral vi­sion is the next thing that goes,” he ex­plained.

Un­like oth­ers, though, with dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of the dis­or­der who have lost their eye­sight quickly, Tar­rant says his fam­ily has been lucky for that not to have been the case with them.

Giv­ing back

Tar­rant, who now lives in the Con­cep­tion Bay North com­mu­nity of North River, has also played in bands since he was a teen, and over the years, work­ing in dark night clubs has been a chal­lenge.

Mu­sic is also help­ing him and his sib­lings give back.

In 2014, Tar­rant recorded a CD with his friend and for­mer band­mate Gor­don Ed­wards, also of Lawn, us­ing the funds raised to sup­port the mu­sic pro­gram and set up a schol­ar­ship pro­gram at the school in their home­town, Holy Name of Mary Academy.

Then, the whole fam­ily got in on the act, re­leas­ing a Christ­mas al­bum in 2016 that fea­tured all 12 sib­lings singing. The funds were used to buy ukule­les for the school along with a sound sys­tem for the church in Lawn.

Tar­rant re­cently wrapped up an­other fam­ily al­bum, this time fea­tur­ing 11 of the broth­ers and sis­ters singing clas­sic coun­try songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. “Gone Coun­try” also fea­tures one very per­sonal song penned by Tar­rant him­self.

“I Can See” is about a day in the life of a per­son with a vis­ual im­pair­ment, Tar­rant says, ex­plain­ing he used his own ex­pe­ri­ences to write the song.

Half of the pro­ceeds from this CD will go to­wards RP re­search while the rest will be used to help with the start-up of VIBES, the Vis­ually Im­paired/Blind En­rich­ment So­ci­ety, for which Tar­rant will serve as chair.

“There’s a point in time when you do ev­ery­thing, like for ex­am­ple driv­ing a ve­hi­cle and do­ing all the things that ev­ery­body else would be do­ing in life, but af­ter a while as you get older and as your vi­sion de­clines, you end up not be­ing able to do those things,” Tar­rant said of his song and eye dis­or­der.

You may look back and miss those things, Tar­rant says, but added “I Can See” is not a sor­row­ful tune. It also shows grat­i­tude for life’s gifts. For him, play­ing mu­sic in clubs and venues through­out New­found­land and Labrador for decades was one of those.

“I’m cer­tainly very thank­ful for that, and now of course I’ve sort of gen­er­ated my mu­si­cal en­ergy into record­ing, which I’ve done a lot of lately,” Tar­rant said.

CON­TRIBUTED

Funds raised from the lat­est record­ing ef­fort by Bob Tar­rant and his sib­lings, “Gone Coun­try”, will go to­wards re­tini­tis pig­men­tosa re­search, as well as the start-up of VIBES, the Vis­ually Im­paired/Blind En­rich­ment So­ci­ety. The hered­i­tary eye dis­or­der af­fects many mem­bers of the ex­tended Tar­rant fam­ily.

CON­TRIBUTED

Tar­rant sib­ling JeanAnn Lam­bert presents her mother, Mar­garet Tar­rant, with a copy of the new Tar­rant Fam­ily al­bum, “Gone Coun­try”.

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