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Nottinghamshire County Council - Proud of our past, ambitious for our future
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Bob's career now pretty as a picture!

09 November 2012
Community artist Bob Lee has launched his own art business after a serious health scare forced him to give up work as a care manager three years ago.

Weighing around 35 stone in 2009, Bob, from Lime Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield, was forced to finish his career as a manager at Autism First in Riddings, Derbyshire.

But after he suffered a suspected heart attack and raised blood pressure, Nottinghamshire County Council’s ACLS (Adult Community Learning Service) team has helped Bob on the path to follow his dream to teach people how to paint, and he has since been inspired to improve his fitness and health.

Now weighing just 23 stone, Bob was inspired by American TV painter Bob Ross, and became a National Community Learning Champion by holding ‘Can’t Paint, Won’t Paint’ workshops in the Idlewells Shopping Centre in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

With continued support from the shopping centre, the county council’s ACLS service and Sutton Centre Community College, High Pavement, he has now opened a new business – Can Paint, Will Paint. Some of his up and coming classes at the centre for November are as follows:

• Sunday 11 November- £40 - Remembrance Poppy landscape - four places left - 10am-2pm
• Sunday 18 November- £40 - Seaside crashing wave - six places left - 10am-2pm

Bob, aged 43, said: “A local county councillor put me in touch with the ACLS team at Nottinghamshire County Council and they have been vital in helping signpost and support me onto the right track.

“I was in shock and very daunted when I had the health scare and had to give up the job I loved. However, I love painting and am inspired by Bob Ross on TV who is an artist and I had an idea that I wanted to teach others to paint.”

Maxine Murray, an outreach officer based within the ACLS team helped him to achieve his ambition. Together, they set up a concept called Can’t Paint, Won’t Paint and with the support of Ashfield District Council and the Idlewells Shopping Centre, they set up the programme to help introduce shoppers to painting.

More than 2,000 people took part in the workshop taster summer sessions and then this autumn his future was made more certain with a full-time base within the shopping centre for his Can Paint Will Paint, community learning enterprise, which is in partnership with Sutton Centre Community College. Bob has also taken part in the PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course at Sutton College so he is qualified to teach him in the lifelong sector.

He said: “I am delighted to be able to realise this dream. I love being able to help people to paint and the workshops have been fantastic. To be able to set up my own company is brilliant and I am looking forward to it.

“This would not have been possible without the support and help of Maxine at the County Council and other partners who put me on the right path and my confidence has grown. I would recommend others to get in touch if they have a skill they are trying to put into practice.”

Maxine Murray, an outreach officer for ACLS, at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Bob was struggling to get his idea off the ground when we first met but his ideas were so compelling and his personality is infectious.

“We helped him find funding sources to host a series of workshops and it has just grown and grown. Young and old have benefited from the painting sessions and I am sure the new business will also succeed.”

Andrew Wraight, Centre Manager at the Idlewells Shopping Centre, in Sutton-in-Ashfield, said: “The team at Idlewells Shopping Centre have been working closely with Bob for some time, and we were delighted when Bob entered a local ‘Dragon’s Den’ competition.

“We have assisted Bob with funding to get his Can Paint Will Paint enterprise off the ground and will continue to support him with business mentoring as the project progresses. It is great to have the opportunity to help Bob turn his talent into a business and we wish him every success.”

Private lessons are also available - £60 full day, £45 full day. Call Bob Lee on 07846 866065 for more details.

Anyone interested in following Bob’s path and becoming a volunteer Learning Champion or the wide variety of community learning courses available can contact the ACLS team at Nottinghamshire County Council on 0115 9772185 or email acls@nottscc.gov.uk

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