James and sister Joanna
Young Jamie in his multi-coloured sweater
James was a very accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist
James in pensive mood - and sunglasses!
James (Jamie as we always called him in his early years) was unique, a true character, with such a sensitive, loving and kind nature, always showing compassion for the ‘underdog’ from his early years.
He was a very active, courageous and talented boy with a wicked sense of humour, something that never left him, even in his darkest times of mental agony.
He had a sister, Joanna (Jo), who is younger, whom he loved deeply, and from their early years were inseparably bonded, strengthened by their mutual love and talent for music, often collaborating and playing together in their teens.
James in his early life was blighted with chronic asthma and eczema, with constant admissions to hospital, but he always bravely bounced back
and never complained. Aged 7 he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia, and that year he went to a specialised unit attached to a large school, where he felt happy and thrived, among children who had the same difficulty, which helped him enormously.
His talent as an artist shone from a very early age, forever drawing to express himself, where writing was difficult, and because of a very good and inspiring art teacher at school, his artistic talent broadened and flourished , resulting in him winning an art scholarship to his senior school, St Bedes.
His time here was mixed, going from the small family school to a large one with no familiar faces was very
tough for him at the beginning, but he did eventually settle and worked hard, despite his learning difficulties, and really shone in his artistic and sporting abilities. He was a very popular, charismatic boy, both with his fellow peers and teachers.
James learned to play the guitar, mainly self taught, but also with the help of his father, Adrian, and went on to become a very accomplished guitarist. This was his great passion and he joined a school band and began to perform at the school shows.
On leaving school in 1999 he went on to Farnham Art College for a foundation year prior to going on to Plymouth University, based in Exeter, to do a fine
art degree. Tragically James had a breakdown after his first year at University and was admitted to a hospital in Hove for treatment. He was diagnosed with mental illness (non specific initially, but later Schizophrenia), and there began his battle with this debilitating illness.
He very bravely went back to Exeter a year later and continued his art degree course and graduated with a very good degree in 2004.
James came back from university to live in Brighton and Hove and continued making music with friends and playing in a few bands, and doing ‘open mic’ sessions in clubs and bars, as well as singing in the streets of Brighton and Hove which he enjoyed doing at times, as well as painting portraits of people when they stopped to sit for him. He rented an art studio
in Hove for a little while which gave him a lot of pleasure and he created some amazing artwork, and felt happy to be part of an arty community.
James was such a brave character, he rarely complained about what he was going through, but I knew over the years just how much he was suffering, coupled with the powerful medication he had to take that was supposed to be helping him and yet seemed to be making things worse, certainly with all the debilitating side effects he had to endure, and then having to fit into life and community again after many hospital admissions, and finding this very often lonely and isolating, and many times losing interest in the two things that gave him so much joy in his life, his art and music.
His music was a huge part of his life, a gifted guitarist, singer and lyricist, writing and recording many of his songs. As his close friend Estelle Dupuis said, "He was so much more than a guitar player and inspired many people through his songwriting". He had always hoped some day to be recognised and perform his music to a wider audience; I always believed he would.
James had the biggest heart, forever willing to help people whom he thought less fortunate, and despite everything he went through over the years, he was always recounting stories and making us laugh.
I saw my son a great deal and loved and admired him so much. There are no words that could possibly describe how much we miss him.
James was such a kind and caring person
James with his mum Carole
James at work in his studio