It brings you alive

Gordon is rediscovering his love of art with the support of our Daybreak Learning Community.

Gordon was put in touch with us through our partnership with Ageing Well Torbay which funds our courses and community outreach for people aged over 50.

He loved art from childhood but there were no opportunities to make a living with drawing skills so he trained as an engineer. Gordon enjoyed art as a hobby, leading to studying for a qualification after retirement and a stunning portfolio now modestly stored in his spare room and shed.

His studies also led to volunteering at a local school, helping young people to discover their own art skills and develop confidence. Gordon says: “It was supposed to be a two-week placement and the school thought I wouldn’t last because some of the children had behaviour issues. I encouraged them to draw parts of a mural which we did together and they really enjoyed it. I ended up staying for five years!”

This was a great source of pride for Gordon but increasing health problems affected his ability to draw and paint. He spent more time at home looked after by his wife Sue, feeling increasingly isolated and depressed.

“Once you stop it’s hard to get back into it”

“I’ve got false knees and I suffer from arthritis and all sorts of things. I’ve had operations on my throat. I’d not been using my fingers and hands because of my nervous system – I’d lost my grip. I wasn’t feeling well. You tend to lose your drive. Once you stop it’s hard to get back into it again. I gave away my iPads and laptops to my children because I couldn’t write.”

Sharon, our ageing well co-ordinator, began visiting Gordon and Sue at home and was stunned by Gordon’s artwork and also Sue’s talent with crochet. She also visited with other people from Daybreak including Paul, a volunteer with experience of depression.

Gordon and Sue were encouraged to come to the Daybreak centre in Paignton and take part in a drop-in crafts session. Gordon says: “When I met Sharon we talked about what I wanted to do and needed to do. I went to Daybreak and people were supportive and positive.

“It’s brought me out of my shell”

“It’s brought me out of my shell. When I was doing art at Daybreak it was good – there were people of all different abilities, men and women. It’s a whole group of us that can work and befriend each other. Sometimes all you want to do is have a chat.

“It really stops you being lost people. And you are someone – you’ve got to have a belief in that. I’m not lonely when I’m drawing, only when I stop. You’ve got someone to talk to and do something with. I started picking up my sketch book again and doing little things.”

Another boost for Gordon was going back to the school with Sharon where he volunteered, meeting the head teacher and seeing that the murals he helped to create with young people are still on display.

Now Gordon and Sharon are planning to run arts sessions at Daybreak and hold an exhibition of arts and skills of people aged over 50.

Gordon says: “People who do art – they do things because they like it. And they view things because they like them. And it’s about colour and brightness. Sometimes it’s dark when they’re in a bit of a bad mood but generally, it brings you alive.

“Everyone can draw and paint”

“And when you finish it doesn’t matter what it looks like to anyone else. It’s what it matters to you, how you like it, how you enjoyed it. Everyone can draw and paint. It’s just that we do is different.

“It’s just getting groups of interested people to enjoy themselves and get out of loneliness. It’s wonderful if you can do that. The centre brings you back to life with art and drawing, and Sue’s doing her crocheting and all of that. It shows you’re still alive and you’re not to be forgotten.”