Tag Archives: mouth painting

SCI Superstar: Henry Fraser


Some could say that 2015 has been a banner year for Henry Fraser. Injured in 2009, Henry has come a long way since becoming paralyzed from the shoulders down. Now 23, this former rugby player discovered painting – watercolor painting to be specific – and has skyrocketed to fame thanks to his paintings of famous athletes.

But mouth painting isn’t everything he does, although his 31 thousand and counting followers on Twitter might have a thing or two to say about that. Also a rising inspirational speaker, Henry has turned his injury into something much bigger than himself.

Why he’s fearless

It was while on holiday in Portugal when he was 17 years old when his entire life changed. Playing on the beach with his buddies, he decided to dive into an area of water nearby, but like so many before him with spinal cord injuries from diving accidents, he misjudged the depth. Henry broke his 3rd vertebrae, and couldn’t move anything but his head to get his friends’ attention.

Fortunately, his friends noticed something was wrong and pulled him out. Henry was airlifted to the UK to complete his rehabilitation and in 2010, he returned to school to finish up high school. Since returning home, he has been working hard on increasing his strength, even being able to lift 40 pounds with just a few back muscles. Henry has put 110% into his rehabilitation.

And while he was in rehab to battle boredom, he began painting with his iPad; a simple app to pass the time, but he soon discovered he loved painting; something he enjoyed when he was younger as well. To paint, Henry uses angled brushes with a rubber piece at the end so the brushes are easy to hold his mouth, and he uses a special stylus and easel. His preferred medium is watercolor, since it requires less mixing.

Since discovering painting this year, he’s attracted the attention of several celebrities after painting their portraits, including David Beckham who he was able to meet.  Henry has also made portraits of Tour de France winner Chris Froome, Roger Federer, Harry Potter (with a shout-out from JK Rowling), Thierry Henry and Olympic runner Usain Bolt.  And big news giants like CNN and The Telegraph have shared Henry’s story with the world this year.

What’s next?

But painting isn’t everything he’s doing. Henry discovered that he’s a powerful public speaker. In his speeches, he focuses on the positive and talk about what is still possible, instead of focusing on what is no longer possible. One of his famous quotes, “If you just lie there and don’t accept, you don’t move on and adapt and get on with life and you just waste energy hoping things were better” perfectly encompasses his positivity.

Henry gives speeches to schools, businesses and rugby clubs and plans on giving many more in the future. His bright attitude is always needed in the spinal cord injury world. Also an ambassador for Lecky, the Matt Hampson Foundation and the UK Stem Cell Foundation, Henry proves you don’t need anything more than a serious drive in life, not a working body, to get things done.

Have you tried mouth painting post-injury?

– Visit his site: HenryFraser.com

– Follow him on Twitter @henryfraser0

Watch the videos!

Paralyzed man paints with his mouth

Meet Henry Fraser – the inspirational paralyzed mouth painter

My talk

SCI Superstar: Barry West


Barry “Bazza” West, a C4 quadriplegic from Framfield, UK, may be the most active quadriplegic in the world. With no movement below the shoulders, he’s racked up an impressive list of extreme sports he’s done since his injury.

Mouth darts, downhill skiing, flying with just his head, kayaking, skydiving, paragliding, SCUBA diving, mountain climbing, even trimming bushes using a robotic arm, Barry refuses to waste time he still has on Earth. “We have only one life,” as Barry likes to say, and he definitely lives by his words.

Above all, Bazza is an unforgettable motivational speaker who’s all about “getting cracking” with life; a mindset we absolutely love. Read on for the absolutely awesome story of Barry West.

Why he’s fearless

Barry’s early years were idyllic and completely unaware of the disability world, and he freely admits it. Originally from Sussex, England, Barry comes from a large family and he was a very active kid. He loved rugby, and as he became a teenager, fell in love with boxing.

But while driving home from work in 1996 when he was 19 (he was a gardener; a job he loved), a badger jumped in front of his car, causing him to swerve and hit a tree, breaking his C4-5 vertebrae on impact. And this is where Barry’s personality begins to shine. For four months post-injury, Barry was on a respirator. Doctors told him he likely would never get off the respirator.

“I wanted to prove those buggers wrong,” says Barry, and that is exactly what he did. After training and working hard for over a year, he was finally able to get rid of needing a respirator. It was also during Barry’s first year while he was still in rehab at Stoke Mandeville Hospital when he began giving “talks” as he likes to call them; motivational speeches on moving on.

He also got into mouth darts after his injury, reaching the competition levels quickly. For eight years post-injury, his life mainly revolved around giving speeches and excelling in mouth darts. It wasn’t until 2007 when Barry was introduced to the Backup Trust, England’s premier agency that helps people with disabilities get out of their elements and “really” feel alive. “My life was forever changed for the better the cause of this organization.”

The Backup Trust first took Barry on an adapted skiing trip to Sweden. Next, he wanted to try skydiving, but the doctor he had refused to sign a waiver, saying he could get autonomic dyreflexia. Knowing the doctor was wrong (“I know my own body,” Barry says), he went out and found a new doctor, and went finally skydiving a year after his jump was delayed. It was a 12,000 foot jump, and Barry even donned his Superman costume for the affair. Watch

Next, Barry tried mountain-climbing with Backup, putting together a climbing team “Westy’s Warriors” and they reached the peak of Snowden, the UK’s tallest mountain, a couple years ago. He’s also climbed smaller peaks throughout the UK and has his sights set on one day climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

What’s next?

Mouth painting is another passion of Barry’s and it’s something he’s been doing more and more of. All summer he has been giving live demonstrations of his art form at parks and festivals, and his ability just keep getting better. Watch Barry paint with his daughter looking on

Speaking of which, Barry is also engaged, and they have two daughters together. Being a father is something that comes naturally to Barry and it’s fun to see in his videos. He’s also teaching SCI newbies a variety of skills via Backup, like mentoring and wheelchair skills training. Yes, Barry is a true teacher.

Barry, in every sense of the word you are a SCI superstar. With a heart of gold and steely determination combined with a twisted sense of humor, you are thriving above and beyond, and you have certainly brought it on.

How did you find strength post-injury?

– Visit his official domain: Barry West Official

Watch the videos!

Barry West gives an upbeat motivational speech at a private school dinner

Barry West and his team climb the tallest peak in Wales, Snowden

Barry goes scuba-diving in Barbados

After 1 year of petitioning his doctor, Barry finally goes skydiving

Got only your head? Barry’s hysterical “Bongo Cam”

Mouth painting at home with Barry with daughter looking on