Yorkshire mouth painters raise money through global Christmas card sales

  • 'I like the challenge': Leanne Beetham speaks to reporter Sarah Clark

A former miner who broke his neck playing rugby league and a woman born without the use of her hands have spoken about how mouth painting gave them a focus for artistic expression.

David Cawthorne and Leanne Beatham are among a group of disabled painters who have created Christmas cards for the Mouth and Foot Painters Association (MFPA).

The cards have been sold around the world to raise money for people with disabilities.

Ms Beetham, 36, from Hull, said: "I think it's kind of cool to know my artwork has travelled the world. I have had Christmas cards printed in Canada and Japan. One day I would like to visit those places too but I think it's cool that my artwork has already got there."

She was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital condition causing joint stiffness and muscle weakness.

"I started drawing when I was about three years old," she said. "I only did it because it was fun and over time it evolved and turned into so much more.

"It's my passion. I like the challenge, you can escape into your own world.

"I have always wanted to use my artwork to help others. That's always been a goal of mine."

  • David Cawthorne speaks to reporter Helen Steel in his studio

Ms Beetham is a member of the MFPA, an international self-help association of artists who paint without the use of their hands. There are 33 British artists and almost 800 artists from over 80 countries worldwide.

Mr Beetham, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, is one of them. He now makes an income from his paintings.

The 61-year-old said: "Forty-two years ago I broke my neck playing rugby league and I took up mouth painting as an occupational therapy.

"Painting itself helps by taking your mind off problems. You get immersed in paintings and it helps that way."

Their designs have been used on Christmas cards that are being sold to fund equipment and raise awareness of disability.

Ms Beetham said: "Christmas is quite expensive nowadays so cards are a nice gesture to say 'I'm still thinking of you'."

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