Dunstable builder turns to art after massive stroke

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A massive stroke caused a Dunstable builder to lose 40 per cent of his movement – with fears from his family that he might never recover.

But as Paul Kissane, of Burr Street, regained his faculties, he emerged with one latent talent that he never knew he possessed.

Paul, 48, is becoming an accomplished artist with an almost mathematical precision for drawing landscapes. The dad-of-two worked as a builder for more than 20 years and said he never had any artistic inclination before the stroke.

Paul said: “I was in the support group one day and was feeling down.

“I asked the lady for a pen and tried to write my name, but I couldn’t.”

Unable to write his name, Paul made a tiny scribbling motion back and forth, adding to it bit by bit until he created a complete shape on the paper.

Now he spends four hours each morning hard at work with his sketchbook. His drawings are detailed and one of his inspirations is the Manchester artist L. S. Lowry, famous for his matchstick men.

Landscapes and city skylines are not all as Paul also has a knack for cartoons. Celebrities including Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson and Prince Charles have all been caricatured.

One day Paul never forgets is the day of his stroke in November 2012.

He marks the time that has passed – two years and four months – and the recovery he has made since then.

Thinking back, he said: “I remember walking in the gym. I was lifting up the bar and someone asked if I was OK. I said, ‘I’ve got a headache’ and the other guy said, ‘go home’.

“I came home and went upstairs and I put my hand on the wall for support, and then fell down. I was down here falling and my son Jordan was saying ‘Dad’ and he opened the door and said ‘what are you doing?’ and I couldn’t move.

“I was conscious but it was weird and I didn’t know what was going on. I went to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and I’d lost 40 per cent of movement.”

As Paul lay in hospital, his large family including his mum, four brothers and two sisters, rallied around him.

He said: “For two weeks I had no movement in my right side. I thought I was going to die and my mum and all the family were there looking at me like I was going to die. I couldn’t speak.

“The second week I thought, ‘I’m off’ and ripped off all the stuff and I was...”

Paul isn’t able to finish the sentence, but laughs while making a hobbling gesture.

That attempt at escape, however, was the first step. Paul has regained most of the movement in his right side and is getting back a lot of his speech. One thing he is certain of is that he will eventually make a complete recovery.