Interesting People – Bazza West
Last Christmas I received a card that caught my attention. It depicted rather a pleasant little winter scene, and it made me flip it over to see if there was any information about it. I discovered that it was done by a mouth-artist, a young man who was crippled from the neck down in a car crash …. I’d like everybody to share this, please, not only to raise the profile of mouth artists, but to raise the spirits of anybody feeling a bit down today.
Born in East Sussex in 1976, 36 year-old Bazza is from a large family. The youngest of six children (three brothers and two sisters,) he has always been energetic. Interests during his teenage years were anything physical. They ranged from sports like running, boxing, and weightlifting to activities such as Cubs and the Red Cross volunteers. It even included ballet!
Bazza’s energy and physical strength allowed him to shape a successful career as a landscape gardener, running his own business by the age of 17. The above picture shows Bazza in 1996 before his accident, and his physical strength is truly visible here.
Unfortunately for Bazza, things were about to change and his whole life was to be turned upside down. Driving one afternoon in the rain, he swerved to avoid a badger, left the road and struck a tree with colossal force. The impact made the van’s roof cave in and Bazza’s neck was broken in two places.
Bazza spent months in critical care, and the harsh reality of never being able to use his arms or legs again set in. Whilst in hospital, Bazza suffered with nightmares, hallucinations and constant fear. Bazza could have easily succumbed to depression and anxiety for the rest of his life. But this strong young man refused to give in. ‘It was tough at the beginning – I cannot pretend it wasn’t. But I have always had in my mind that you have just got to get on with it.’
Bazza now lives in Uckfield, East Sussex with his dog, Sid. He has a permanent live in carer and daily visits from nurses. Unfortunately, paralysis doesn’t come without secondary medical problems, so Bazza does go in and out of hospital a lot. But this doesn’t stop him! He will still travel across the country and will keep to his appointments for after – dinner talks and the like.
‘Whether you have a disability or not, we all need a boot up the arse sometimes to get out there and do stuff – that’s what I hope I show others by doing all the mad things I do. Nobody likes a miserable sod do they?’
Photograph taken by Ron Hill, Uckfield.
Bazza has climbed Ben Nevis and is a qualified open water scuba diver, hoping to advance to the next level. He kayaks, skydives, abseils, you name it, Bazza has probably done it. All this whilst being confined to a wheel chair.
‘People say to me, would I have been doing the things I do, had I not had my injury? Obviously, I cannot say for sure, but definitely the goals I score now are far sweeter than anything I could have done previously.’
Bazza has also become an accomplished mouth artist. He taught himself by using Youtube videos. He now has a tutor who comes by for a few hours each week. His pictures cover the walls of his home, and these are all painted by holding a paintbrush in his mouth! Recently Bazza was even taking on by a mouth and foot painting company, to be one of 36 mouth painting artists in the UK.
Photo taken by Ron Hill, Uckfield
Even with all these high adrenaline hobbies and his busy schedule, Bazza still has many dreams, including going on a safari, and one of his main ones is to become a father.
“Bring it on,! One Life – Live It!”
For more information on Bazza, please see his website http://www.westyuk.co.uk/
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. More about her and her work, to include her blogs from around the world, on http://turquoisemoon.co.uk
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