Chris, an Enrych member from Loughborough, first came in contact with us around five years ago when we introduced one of our volunteers, Tom, to him. Over the years Tom has supported Chris with various home-based tasks and the two have become good friends.
Chris explains a little about his disability:
“My disability can best be described as rheumatoid arthritis and right hemiplegia [paralysis down one side]. The hemiplegia developed as a result of an accident that happened when I was two-and-a-half years old: I was in Libya where my Dad was in the army and I fell out of a first-floor window and landed on the pavement.
“I was hospitalised for a while and then eventually went back home to have further surgery. Unfortunately the surgery left me with hemiplegia. Then when I was eight years old I developed a kidney infection which led to rheumatoid arthritis.
“Although I overcame my hemiplegia to a large extent by adapting to the disability, the thing that disables me the most is my arthritis. All my joints have now completely seized up – I’ve had my hip taken out, I can’t move my shoulders, I only have one moveable finger left and all my other fingers are fractured. Consequently, I am now in a wheelchair.”
As well as enjoying Tom’s support as a volunteer, Enrych found Chris a personal assistant, Lucy, and both have helped Chris pursue his main passion in life – art and painting.
“I’ve always wanted to be a painter”, explains Chris. “People would always ask me as a little boy what I wanted to do when I grew up and I said ‘I want to be an artist’ even though I didn’t really know what being an artist meant!”
Along with the kind support from others, Tom and Lucy helped arrange Chris’ first ever solo art exhibition at a gallery in Leicester.
“‘Lucy has been absolutely brilliant with phone calls, post and that sort of thing. My paralysis has made my speech a bit more stutter and so from an orator’s point of view it’s brilliant to have her look after my phone, it sounds quite posh when she says ‘PA to Christopher English here!’” said Chris.
Chris’ first solo exhibition will be at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester from 15 to 28 April 2013. A free book of the paintings is available to all people who visit the exhibition and a pack of postcards of the paintings are on sale at the museum shop.
To see more of Chris’ paintings visit www.englishsymbolistart.com