"Being a teenager with a facial disfigurement in the ‘70s was dreadful. The infrastructure didn’t exist to deal with what I was going through."

David's Story

davidI’ve been around doctors and hospitals my whole life. Born with a Vascular Anomaly which affects my right eye, face and head, I’ve endured multiple surgeries and interventions from when I was a baby.

Medical research in the mid ‘50s was not as advanced as it is now and nobody really knew what to make of me. My parents were very loving and supportive, but they too had a really tough time coming to terms with the fact that I would always look different.

Being a teenager with a facial disfigurement in the ‘70s was dreadful. The infrastructure didn’t exist to deal with what I was going through. Due to the ulcerations on my eye my surgeon had to seal part of my eyelid off so I’m unable to open this properly. My unusual appearance didn’t make courtship (as it was referred to then) any easier as all the girls I knew just wanted to be friends. It was a really sad time for me. In 1973, I finally got a job which made me a lot happier as I was able to socialise more and even go on a date! Ten years later I met my wife Joanne whom I have been married to now for 23 years.

I first heard about Changing Faces in 1999 when my surgeon introduced me to a young Chinese man with a disfigurement. He had been looking for someone with a disfigurement who could help him overcome the difficulties he faced in coming to terms with his condition. That experience really changed me and made me realise how easier my life could have been if the charity had been around when I was a young man. I am not unduly worried about my appearance but listening to people insult me because I looked different did affect me. I’m stronger for it and know how to cope, but what about others out there who don’t? Changing Faces provides expert counselling, advice, and resources to people affected by disfigurement helping them feel good about themselves in a world where looks seem to count for so much.

Changing Faces has empowered me and I’m now a strong advocate of their Face Equality campaign which fights to change public attitude towards those affected by a disfigurement. In August 2010, I was the lucky winner of a chance to have my portrait painted by Antony Williams as part of Changing Faces Art Prize collection.  Being selected was surreal because I never really thought I would win. I can’t believe my painting will be gracing the walls of some posh gallery for many years to come! It’s an organisation that means a great deal to me and feel that since being involved, I’ve acquired such a strong confidence within myself. And it’s not just me,  the charity is beginning to make a difference to the lives of thousands of people all over the UK.

A lot of people don’t think disfigurement has anything to do with them but the reality is it could affect anyone, even you. You could acquire it at birth or it could happen through an accident, a fire or through an attack. It’s been eleven years since I got involved with the charity and I’m still trying to help in my own little way.  With the support of family and friends, I’m raising funds by giving talks to small groups of people. Disfigurement is not a pretty word but it needs to be dealt with by everyone whether they are disfigured or not!

Buy David’s book: My Positive Face Of Disfigurement: A True Story