James’ wish was to spend a night in a hotel in Belfast. All the other kids were off to Florida or on some other exotic dream. Not enough, we thought! Then we discovered he quite liked the Belfast Giants Ice Hockey, so we got the family tickets for the Odyssey Arena nearby to the hotel. He is now friends with the players and coach. When he attends matches, he has his own private box due to the risk of infection and he knows all about the Giants and Ice Hockey.
He said his teacher thought he was good at art, so Neil Shawcross and Les Jones volunteered to coach him. Many years later Neil and James exchanged portraits of each other. James has become an accomplished, award-winning artist and holds regular Art Exhibitions with the generous support of the Europa Hotel.
A trip to Disneyland would be long gone but what a legacy James has and from such a humble wish.
Of course, James deserves the credit for making this happen with his amazing personality and positive mental attitude.
James gives as good as he gets. He held a drawing class for Ulster Rugby. Check out the results of a talented Paddy Jackson and an assured Andrew Trimble…
Over the years, he has produced many other designs to decorate the back of our brushes.
Indeed, last Friday (1st July) he collected first-off production samples of his latest creation, a baby brush. When he asked for a couple more for Zoe Salmon and Bronagh Waugh’s new babies, he wasn’t name dropping - he was talking about the friends he has made along the way and, as usual thinking of others.
James has so many prominent supporters, besides of course, Mum (Sue) and Dad (William), including Jim Rogers, Pamela Ballentine and the list goes on.
One of his most ambitious fund-raising initiatives was a series of portraits of local personalities. I felt very flattered to be included. My daughter, Zoe, was a more deserving sitter, for a portrait considered to be the best likeness.
Over the years I have accumulated a number of James’ work. These were photographed recently, before being hung in a newly decorated room where they illustrate just how his art has developed.
On the reverse of the second painting is a newspaper cutting from the time.
It is always a pleasure to meet up with James and catch up on what he is doing. Art Exhibitions are being planned at Sue’s hometown of Clonmel and the Stormont Hotel.
James has a fantastic attitude to life. Sometimes when I am feeling a bit sorry for myself, I think of James and the challenges he has faced and overcome. He is a wonderful inspiration to us all. Dr John Rainey MBE, Chairman and Managing Director of Denman.
James signing one of his early works.
Congratulations to James on designing a beautiful elephant piece of art for the NEW Denman X James Baker Baby Brush! Looking forward to launching late 2022! The perfect gift just in time for baby’s first Christmas <3