Derbyshire man draws poignant portraits of NHS staff in lockdown to fund new rugby kit
A Derbyshire man has been drawing and selling portraits of NHS staff to raise money for a new kit for his mixed ability rugby team.
Passionate fundraiser Tom Wilson first started creating art of healthcare workers, Disney characters and other Covid related pictures three weeks ago, selling pieces from £6 to £9 in order to generate funds for his Derby Mixed Ability Rugby Team.
The 33-year-old who is profoundly deaf, has cerebral along with a learning disability and is unable to speak, has raised £100 for the new team kit by by drawing three to four pictures a day.
He was initially motivated to start creating the portraits as a way to help him get through the third lockdown but also thought it was a novel way to afford a brand new strip for his team when they play in the International Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament in Cork, Ireland next year.
Tom’s full time carer Jo Timbrell, 35, who lives in Brimington has watched Tom’s ideas come to life over the past few weeks.
"He just had a great response from family and friends, then people are requesting drawings, he's been hard at it everyday”, she said.
"He's truly amazing and I'm privileged to work with him.
"The first picture he did for the NHS with the blue mask and the tears coming down from the eyes, as soon as I saw it it made me emotional.
"I came to work one morning and he had done it just before I arrived, I was honestly blown away that he had drawn it from his own idea and I don't think he could have captured it anymore than what he did.”
Tom who has a keen interest in rugby, previously volunteered for the Derby Rugby Club for a number of years before they had a mixed ability team, helping to put water battles out for the players and various other tasks around the club house.
Tom, from Ashbourne, ‘kind of hounded them for a year or two’ about why they didn’t have a mixed ability side according to Jo, which led to the team which now has 16 to 18 players being set up.
He also ran for Great Britain in the Paralympics when he was 16, and took up horse riding and disability basketball among other hobbies.
He now volunteers at Lea Green Learning and Development Centre in Matlock and previously travelled to Barcelona with his carer to volunteer for the Cerebral Palsy World Games in 2018.
Jo added: "He is just an inspiration, nothing stops him.
"I work solely for Tom, so if anything he's been my pick me up as much as I am for him.
"Coming to work and seeing these pictures that he's doing, if I am having a down day as we all do as humans, it is just a reminder to pick yourself up and keep going basically."