Paul’s Place

Paul’s Place is a charity for physically and cognitively impaired adults, aged 18-59. Members, volunteers and staff at Paul’s Place invited Chalmers to help them produce a thought-provoking collection of images in order to challenge and explore the meaning of disability. The entire collection, composed of 27 sitters, was shot in two weeks with the kind loan of ITV West's studios at Bristol in the UK.

The images were showcased by the international press, the British Journal of Photography, along with art-based publications and worldwide disability publications. The models of the project were proud to have their portraits used in a calendar, which was sold internationally to raise funds. In addition, the portrait of Sarah Mann (included in this presentation) was a finalist in the The Association of Photographers Open Awards and exhibited in their East London Gallery in 2007 where Sarah introduced her portrait in person on the opening night.

In memory of Jon Martin. “No regrets!” Jon Martin 2007

‘Here are the images from the bravest nude calendar yet... the verdict of those who took park was delight in the pictures and a massive boost to their self-confidence’

- The Independent

Jon Martin

My name is Jon Martin and I am 29 years old. I have had multiple sclerosis for just over five years and have been a member of Paul’s Place for the last two years.

When I was approached about doing the Calendar, I jumped at the chance! Paul’s Place has given me so much support and encouragement since I started, I thought it would be good to give something back.

Now that the Calendar is out, I don’t regret it. No regrets!

Kath Aldom

My name is Kath Aldom. I am 50 years old. I have been married to Phil for 32 years and have two grown up sons. They make my life complete. In 1995, I founded Paul’s Place. Passion, enthusiasm and love have made us into the wonderful charity we are today.

Paul’s Place is a massive part of my life. The warmth and love that surrounds me from everyone involved brightens up every day of my life. Everyday, I see people supporting and caring for each other with genuine affection. The pride and love I feel for Paul’s Place and all of the people involved in it is sometimes so overpowering it makes me catch my breath. I must be the luckiest person alive.

As you see I have not got the best body in the world. Believe me when I say this is the hardest thing I have ever done. To show ourselves naked makes us incredibly vulnerable, but it is with great pride that I made the decision to be part of this calendar. All of us have different bodies, but luckily we are not judged by them. Please look at all my imperfections closely; when I have clothes on I look like you. I hope by my bravery you will look at others who cannot hide their imperfections and begin to treat them with the respect they deserve.

Sarah Mann

My name is Sarah Mann. I am 20 years old and have cerebral palsy. I have two older brothers and a sister. When I am not in college at Cheltenham, I live with my Mum and Dad in Bristol.

I love going to Paul’s Place and have been going there for about two years during college holidays. Before I started going to Paul’s Place I was at home with my parents every day and was really bored. I look forward to my days at Paul’s Place where I have made lots of good friends. At Paul’s Place, I am treated as an equal adult person, not as a disabled person. It allows me to have a break away from my parents (and of course a break for them from me). We have lots of fun at Paul’s Place, loads of laughs and do so many enjoyable things.

When I was asked if I would like to do a photo for the calendar, I felt surprised and pleased because I had never thought that I would be able to do anything like that. I really enjoyed having my pictures taken and felt very comfortable and relaxed. When I was told that my photo was going to be in the calendar I could not believe it, I am so chuffed and proud that it’s helping Paul’s Place, it’s great!

Kevin Baker

My name is Kevin Baker. I am 45 and am married with three children - two boys and a girl. I grew up in Bristol but have lived in Thornbury for 20 years, since I got married. I used to be a flour miller - I worked for Shipton Mill for 15 years, where we milled specialised flour.

Two years ago, I had a brain haemorrhage which left me with my disability. I cannot use my left arm and the hospital told me that I would never walk again.
I have proved them wrong - the physiotherapists taught me to walk again, which took eight months.

I came to Paul’s Place in October 2005 which made me happy to know that I wasn’t alone and could talk to people and make friends again. Personally I feel that there is magic at Paul’s Place. Everybody is good to get on with and good to have a laugh with.

I would just like to say that through this whole experience my life has changed, but I have come to terms with it and I would like to thank my wife, Debbie, and my children, Gregory, Joshua and Megan, for standing by me and also a big thank you to Paul’s Place for giving me my social life back.

Liz Taylor

My name is Liz Taylor (AKA Your Majesty). I was 40 years old in September. I used to be a cook before I got multiple sclerosis at the age of 26. Coming to Paul’s Place has given me the opportunity to do things I have never done before. I enjoy reading and spending time with my husband, even though he is rugby mad and likes to fill his arms with tattoos.

He has seen my picture and thinks it is wonderful and that I was brave to do it. I was a bit worried about doing this photo, but the photographer helped, as he was lush. I didn’t think I would do the photo, but I am pleased with it and I hope you enjoy it too.

Gloria Farmer

My name is Gloria Farmer and I am 60 years old.

I was always very shy about my body shape - I am only 5 foot tall and “well rounded”, not fat. In my teenage years, I was the first girl in my class to wear a bra and I used to dread going in the shower after games, as I felt so conspicuous. My younger sister and I were brought up by our grandmother, who had a very Victorian outlook. I cannot recall ever seeing my sister or any other member of my family naked. When I was in my teens, the role models we admired were models like Twiggy, skinny with really long legs, which I could definitely not aspire to. In my 20s and 30s, I made the most of my assets - my boobs and quite a small waist, which seemed to be attractive to the opposite sex, as well as giving me confidence.

Now that I have reached the ripe old age of 60 there are more flaws than assets than there used to be. I have always been very active and have quite a good social life, which I value more than trying to imitate the ideal bodies of models and celebrities. The reason I joined Paul’s Place was because I developed Parkinson’s Disease, which does not really show outwardly at the moment. I also had breast cancer 6 years ago and now have only one breast.

When we were asked to take part in the Calendar, I said yes straight away. I did have second thoughts later, but did decide to take part. On the day of the shoot, I was pretty nervous, as most people were. When my turn came, Theo, the photographer, was very thoughtful and kind and soon put me at ease. I was completely happy during the shoot and was very proud of myself afterwards. My photo is not exactly “page 3”, but I feel that the message it conveys is that life is very precious and we should make the most of it and get our priorities right!

Mark Thomas

My name is Mark Thomas. I have multiple sclerosis. Doctors say I have had MS for about 25 years, but the last four years it has changed my life dramatically! I am an ex-lorry driver and was part of that rare group of men and women who loved their job. I miss it so much!!

I am married and could not have made it through without my wife. I miss taking her out for a meal, on holiday; well anywhere really as I used to drive

After about two years of being trapped in my house, staring at four walls, the Social Services sent me to Paul’s Place which gives my life some normality and meaning. I have achieved so much at Paul’s Place. It has changed my outlook on life, especially other illnesses and disabilities.

It took a lot for me to get my kit off, but when I saw friends doing it, I thought if they can do it, so can I. I thought doing this calendar was going to be a laugh, but after seeing the end result - “I hope you all see the same as me” - that we are all beautiful.

Lisa & Jean Whiting

We are Lisa and Jean Whiting - two more page 3 girls! Lisa is 31 years of age and has suffered from multiple sclerosis since the age of 23. (Jean is Lisa’s Mum and her main carer).

We wanted to do this to help raise funds for Paul’s Place. We were very nervous, but we were glad to show other people that disabled people can still enjoy life!

Pip Wynn-Griffiths

My name is Pip Wynn-Griffiths. I am 43 years old. When I was 14 I was hit by a caravan, which left me disabled. I have memory and physical impairment.
I find it very difficult living in a world where people do not understand who I am and how I feel.

I found out about Paul’s Place through Kath and decided to give it a try. I now go along at least twice a week. I have met many new friends and love joining in all the activities.

I was asked if I would like to be involved in the calendar. The answer was an immediate yes. I love the picture of me because I do not look disabled in it. I hope that it will help to change people’s ideas of disabled people. Thank you to Theo who took the photo and made me look so good.

Sean Francis

My name is Sean and I am 22 years old. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was ten months old, but this has not stopped me from having an active social life.

I love sport, particularly football. Arsenal are my team and I have met Thierry Henry - in fact, rumour has it he has my picture on his bedroom wall! I am a season ticket holder at Bristol City for my sins and enjoy away matches especially. I also follow cricket and rugby league.

I am a talented sportsman myself, representing England and Wales at a ball game called Boccia, which is specifically for people with cerebral palsy. My long term aim is to be in the GB team for the 2012 Olympics, but this is very expensive, so if anybody out there would like to sponsor me, I would be very grateful.

I love holidays and travelling. Last year, I sailed for a week on a tall ship with the Jubilee Sailing Trust and this year I went to the World Cup in a motor home with my carers and mates. My holidays with Paul’s Place are also great fun.

Michelle & Kathryn Thomson

Hello, we are Michelle (aged 24) and Kathryn - Michelle’s Mum and primary carer.

Michelle has a condition called Juvenile Battens Disease, which was only diagnosed when Michelle was nearly 21. Two of the major symptoms of JNCL are progressive loss of sight, and epilepsy. Michelle is now almost totally blind, and has suffered many severe epileptic seizures since she was 16.

Michelle’s sight loss began not long after starting primary school and, as it got worse, she eventually left mainstream school in Bristol and transferred to the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s College in Worcester. From there she went on to the Royal National College for the Blind at Hereford, where she enjoyed her studies in Performing Arts.

We first got to know about Paul’s Place through one of the club’s volunteers, who we met during one of Michelle’s periods in hospital. When we went along to the club for the first time, we were taken with the happy atmosphere and the helpful and friendly members and staff. Michelle looks forward to the three days each week that she spends at Paul’s Place.

Our reason for being involved in this Calendar is to promote disabled people in a positive light and to help raise much needed funds for Paul’s Place.

Sam Pointer

Hi, I am Sam. I am 18 years old. I have Cerebral Palsy.

Although I spend all my time in a wheelchair, I am a sports fanatic, especially cricket and I am looking forward to “bowling a maiden over”!

Being a new member of Paul’s Place, I was very excited when I was asked to be part of the calendar and it is an honour to be chosen to appear. Paul’s Place has given me a whole new group of friends and I love being part of this brilliant group. I hope the calendar raises lots of money so that we can have our own building.

Dean Graham

My name is Dean Graham and I participated in the calendar for and on behalf of Paul’s Place. I suffer with Von Richen Heimanns Disease. This means I am in a wheelchair and have difficulty co-ordinating my movements. I am 25 years of age and live with my parents and little nephew and sister, Hayley. We live at Lockleaze.

I have had this disease from the age of one and know no other situation in life. To identify this disease, it is the same as John Merrick, the Elephant Man, but to a very smaller degree, with not so much deformity.

I did the calendar to show people that people with disability are beautiful - they think the same and feel the same as able bodied people.

Danielle Lloyd

My name is Danielle Lloyd, I am 40 years old and was born with a condition called spina bifida. I live independently, I work and I have recently started studying with The Open University. During my spare time I enjoy listening to music, reading and general social activities (many of them with Paul’s Place).

I became involved with Paul’s Place about three months after it began, after seeing an article about it in a local newspaper. I went along to one of their meetings a few days later and immediately knew that it was an organisation I wanted to be part of. By being involved with Paul’s Place, I’ve gained many new friends over the years and one of the best things about Paul’s Place is the support that you gain from the people that are involved.

I’ve done many things thorough being involved with Paul’s Place, that otherwise I probably wouldn’t have done. I’ve gained a computer qualification, which helped me with a training course I went on to do at work. I’ve been on holiday to places that otherwise I probably would never have seen. One of the biggest changes has been the fact that I’ve gained the courage to join in with the gym sessions that Paul’s Place organises, again thanks to the
support of others, which not only provides me with another social opportunity but makes me more aware of taking care of my health.

I was once asked to describe my life in one word and that word was ‘frustration’. I get frustrated that sometimes my body won’t do the things that I want it to do, which makes my daily life difficult at times. I also get frustrated that I get treated by society in a way that I don’t always like because of my disability. When I was younger it proved very difficult to get a job, as employers didn’t want to employ a disabled person.

However, I have been very lucky in the way that my life has turned out in the end, in that I have a very supportive and loving family, some great friends, a home and a job. There are still things that I know that I have missed out on, such as being in a relationship, as men don‘t always take you seriously as a woman if you are disabled. Overall though, I am very happy with my life and with a bit of luck and a lot of stubbornness, it’s surprising what you can achieve!

Paul's Place

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Theo Chalmers for all his hard work and dedication in producing these wonderful images for us. Without his energy, commitment and hardworking assistant Jonny Hyams, this project would still be on the drawing board. We will always be grateful to Theo for giving us the opportunity to show the world just how beautiful we are.

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