EMMA OUTTEN Martin Jacklin is hardly able to forget the midsummer night his musical career was violently cut short, but now his children's love of music is helping the father-of-four compensate for his thwarted ambitions.


Martin Jacklin is hardly able to forget the midsummer night his musical career was violently cut short, but now his children's love of music is helping the father-of-four compensate for his thwarted ambitions.

It was the early '90s and he and his family were living in London, near to the Royal Academy of Music - where he had spent six years and had won many prizes and scholarships - and to Lord's. Earlier that day Mr Jacklin had been to the home of cricket for the first time. He remembers going to bed on a high.

That night two burglars broke in to the family home. Mr Jacklin, who was then a deputy head of faculty at a college in London, recalled: "You sort of do stupid things, like fight back . . ."

He suffered severe spinal injury and brain damage.

He had been thrown down the concrete steps at the front of the house and can remember the sensation of cool grass, as well as that of hot blood. He can also remember the burglars running off, to the sounds of his wife's cries.

"It just meant nothing more to them than that, really," he said.

The burglars were never caught. But to a disabled Mr Jacklin it meant having to give up his musical career. He received compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme.

To the family it meant a move to north Norfolk, where they have been ever since eldest child, Christopher, became a chorister at Ely Cathedral at the age of seven. They live at Hindringham, near Fakenham.

Mr Jacklin has devoted himself to his children, and they, in turn, have shown a devotion to music from a very early age. At the last count, the family can play more than 30 instruments between them - surely Norfolk's answer to the von Trapp family from The Sound of Music.

All four children - Christopher, 21, Freya, 18, Verity, 14, and Helen, 12 - attended Gresham's School on music scholarships.

And last year the EDP reported how Verity and Helena had been awarded music scholarships at The Purcell School in London, one of the country's leading specialist music schools.

Verity had been inspired to play the cello by the Rev John Penny. When Mr Jacklin first met the north Norfolk parish priest he had lost confidence and the children were in danger of following suit. "I even denied being musical," he recalled.

But he added: "He is a wonderful parish priest, has a real knack for empowering people and is a facilitator who drew out of all of us the talent within."

Because the children play so many instruments, Mr Jacklin arranges a lot of music for them.

They play several fund-raising concerts, and earlier this month they played at All Saints Church in Thornage, near Cromer.

Chris sang baritone, Freya sang alto and played cello, Verity played trumpet and cello and Helena played the horn. Mr Jacklin played the organ - as an organist, he is normally based at Gunthorpe, near Fakenham.

Freya has just completed her A Levels, and at the end of this month she will leave for Calcutta to teach underprivileged children at the Mathieson Music School before taking up her place at York University to read music.

Christopher is now reading music at Durham University, where he is Director of University College Choir, and this month he begins an East Anglian tour with Mahogany Opera performing Benjamin Britten's Curlew River.

And there is an unsung heroine in the Jacklin household - mother Bryony, a garden designer. Her garden was featured for six weeks on Channel 4's Real Gardens with Monty Don and is open for charity, by appointment, through the National Gardens Scheme.

Mr Jacklin said: "Without Bryony's huge support we would be nothing: she's my carer and when I was incapacitated she created a paradise garden out of fields entirely for our comfort and inspiration."

Mr Jacklin is still having surgery on his spine, in recent years at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital.

He believes it will take another year before he can play the heavier stuff, requiring "more muscle".

But he said: "I'm physically much more able to practise every day."

Asked whether there was any instrument he could not play, he said: "I've played almost everything over the years. The thing I never did play was a drum kit."

However, he added: "I've learned to play that in very recent times."

Mr Jacklin admitted that he could not have managed over the years without his wife, and his children.

At the recent concert at Thornage he fell off a chair. He said of his children: "They just dropped their instruments, metaphorically, and came straight to my aid."

He added: "It's a perfectly normal, ordinary family, I promise you."