Amputee, 86, teaches herself to paint and draw with left hand

VERSATILE Lillian Prior has taught herself how to draw and create with her left hand.   Picture: Sarah Standing (112545-3797)
VERSATILE Lillian Prior has taught herself how to draw and create with her left hand. Picture: Sarah Standing (112545-3797)
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SHE may be 86, but Lillian Prior has had to relearn from scratch most things we take for granted.

Whether it is writing a letter, making a cup of tea, or ironing clothes, the pensioner has been forced to teach herself how to do the simplest of things.

Lillian had her right arm amputated two years ago after it became riddled with cancer.

But, when many people would have given up, the determined great-grandmother has relearned how to do everyday tasks with her left hand.

More than that, she has even learned how to paint, write and type. She now has a room full of her craftwork, including dozens of shopping bags she has painted. She makes cards, paints artwork on to umbrellas and plans to set up her own craft stall.

Lillian, of Longlands Road, Southbourne, said she is living proof it is never too late to learn some new skills.

She said: ‘The arm got so big it was like an elephant’s leg and the pain was ridiculous. I said to the two nurses, do you mind if I have my arm off? They brought specialists in and decided the only option was amputation.

‘I just said get on with it. The next day they took it off.’

She said she started slowly, learning how to use paint brushes.

‘I painted before, but with my right hand,’ said Lillian.

‘I never did anything with my left hand.

‘But I find it amazing the paintings I have turned out.

‘Sometimes they are better than what I did with my right hand!’

Lillian still does her own ironing, cooking and even drives a mobility scooter one-handed to Emsworth and back.

Her ironing board has been fitted to her wall to make it easier for her to use.

She laughed: ‘It’s the best thing since sliced bread! I can just sit and do my ironing.’

Lillian, who is widowed, said she can still feel her right arm.

She said: ‘When I go to bed at night my right arm is stuck up in the air.

‘I can still feel it like it’s in a sling. I have learned to have a great deal of patience.

‘I do miss my right arm – it’s much easier with two arms. Sometimes I get cross that I can’t do things, but then I get on with it.

‘You can be independent if you want to be.’

Lillian now plans to learn how to bowl left-handed.

She said: ‘I went down the other day and had a try.

‘The bowls did not go where I wanted them to.

‘But I am determined to get back to bowls although it’s difficult.’