Gary documents his cancer ordeal in animated film

Students with learning disabilities who have made their own films about the things they love.  The screening is at the St Johns Centre in Bury.

Students with learning disabilities who have made their own films about the things they love. The screening is at the St Johns Centre in Bury.

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A YOUNG man, who developed learning disabilities after battling a life threatening brain tumour, has documented his triumph over adversity for a film- making project.

Gary Oates, 21, had to learn to walk and talk again at the age of 11 following his gruelling cancer treatment. To make matters worse he had to move house during his recovery after a car ploughed through his family’s home, in Ringshall.

Students with learning disabilities who have made their own films about the things they love.  The screening is at the St Johns Centre in Bury.   Gary Riley with his Iron Maiden figures that he made.

Students with learning disabilities who have made their own films about the things they love. The screening is at the St Johns Centre in Bury. Gary Riley with his Iron Maiden figures that he made.

He has chronicled his ordeal in an animated film as part of a course run by the charity Suffolk Artlink for adults with learning disabilities.

Gary, who has recently moved to Ipswich, said the work had helped ‘boost his confidence and develop new friendships’.

Over 15 weeks, he joined 12 students at The Centre, in St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds, to produce animations based on something they loved or wanted to talk about.

Their films were premiered at a red carpet screening at The Centre on Tuesday.

His dad Giles, 56, of Stowmarket Road, Ringshall, said: “It was moving to watch the film. You can talk about what happened sometimes but watching it can be quite difficult.

“At the age of 11 it was like he started his life again because the operations on his brain broke lots of signals and pathways. The first night we had him home from hospital, a car went through the wall of our house and we had to live in Elmswell and Stowmarket.”

Gary, who is in remission, is working at a factory in Ipswich and hopes to branch out into animation.

The course is part of an ongoing creative programme by Suffolk Artlink, based in Halesworth, which has received funding for four years from the National Lottery.

The charity runs workshops alongside the courses to help the students develop their social skills and self-esteem.

Tutor Rachel Bennett said: “The films are amazing. What’s really lovely is that they’re personal projects with lots of technical skills applied. It’s about celebrating abilities while accessing a creative environment.”