He received the university’s Alumnus Award 2017 during Winter Graduation ceremonies at the Brighton Centre on Thursday (9 Feb) in recognition of his prolific career as a Mouth and Foot Painting Artist and his numerous charitable accomplishments.
Born with no arms due to the drug Thalidomide prescribed to his mother during pregnancy, the renowned artist and charity worker said he wouldn’t choose to have arms now even if he could.
Sam Davies, the university’s Director of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, in her oration quoted him: “Now and then people say ‘well, if you had little magic fairy come along and say if you could have your life again with arms’, I would tell them where to go. I’m quite happy with where I am.
“Art is in your heart and your head – it doesn’t matter which part of your anatomy holds the brush – you can hold it in your hand, your mouth, your foot, or you can stick it up your nose. If you have a talent, it will come out.”
Ms Davies said: “For Tom, there are no such things as obstacles – just him doing the things we all do, but in a different way: ‘I don’t let anything stop me. Someone once described me by saying I wouldn’t play cricket for England, but I would probably play football for Spurs. That’s always been my attitude – just because one door is closed, another will be open’.”