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I got an A* after learning to paint with my mouth
A DETERMINED A* student taught herself to paint, holding the brush in her mouth after refusing to give up on her artistic talent.
Doctors told Heather Purdham, 17, she’d have to abandon her art A-level course after diagnosing a condition which made it too painful for her to hold a brush in her hand.
Heather, of Ailsa Road, West-cliff, refused to let it hold her back and produced a stunning painting which, she learned yesterday, earned her an A* star.
She suffers from a condition called hypermobility syndrome, which loosens the joints and stops her writing or using her hands to paint.
The Westcliff High School for Girls student took inspiration from Alison Lapper, an artist born without arms, and taught herself to paint with the brush in her mouth. She said: “I first noticed a problem through my GCSEs when I was writing a lot more.
“I got to my AS levels and I couldn’t keep up any more. It was too painful and I had to stop.
“I had carpal tunnel syndrome surgery last summer, because that’s what they thought it was. I used a laptop for my coursework and typed my exams.
“I gradually got better at painting with my mouth and then I did a really big painting. “It was in an art exhibition at school and won our headmaster’s award. “The doctors recommended I stop art, but I am very stubborn.”
As well as her A* in art, Heather got a second A* in psychology and A-grades for geography and religious studies.
She now plans to carry on in the same spirit on a degree course at York University, where her boyfriend and best friend will also be going as students.
She added: “I want to study psychology and become a pediatric psychologist. “I’m getting funding from the disabled students allowance and they have been really helpful.
“I am going to use a dictaphone for lectures.”
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