Hi, I’m Nestor and I was born in Poland on 19/04/1999 near Warsaw. My family moved me and my sister to Gloucester near Finlay Community School in 2005. We spent a number of years there before relocating to the Forest of Dean where we’ve stayed since. After finishing at a school in Drybrook, I went to Dene Magna where my interest in art and design started. I had to take extra English classes when other students would be learning French and I took extra time in all tests & GCSEs, despite this, Dene Magna didn’t pick up on my learning difficulties.

At some point in my young age all those years ago, my parents took me to an audiologist because they thought I had a problem with my hearing but it turned out to be a problem with my understanding most of the time instead. They have said that they wish they knew back then.

I received a place in Gloucestershire College, Coleford Campus, where I studied Art and Design Level 2 for a year before moving on to Level 3 for two years during which, on 2 February 2018, I was involved in a road traffic collision on my moped with a 73-year-old woman in her car. This resolted in a metal rod to be put in the broken left femur, a screw in the top part near the hip and three screws in the knee.

I spent three weeks in Southmead Hospital, including 9 days in a medically induced coma, in Bristol and a week in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. During that time, my art and design teacher and general amazing person – Katie, set up a fundraiser with the help of my entire class. My parents bought a painting in that fundraiser that Katie did and my parents still have it framed up in the kitchen.

I was still learning the ramifications of the accident as I was finishing Art and Design Level 3 and I still needed time to adjust. Katie helped me again by getting funding for me to continue with Gloucestershire College for an extra year to study Art and Design Foundation Level 4, based in Cheltenham campus, at the new Cinderford Northern Quarter campus, which was still being built at the time. I had some time at the Cheltenham campus before finally spending the rest of the year at the Cinderford campus. I was interested in pyrography so I decided to do my final project on it. I enjoyed the whole subject which is why I thought I’d make a hobby of it and have something to do.

Gloucestershire College Campus at Cinderford Northern Quarter (Photo: nestorsk.com)

Whilst at GlosCol, I was advised to look into my learning difficulties with the NHS (2Gether) as a counselor recognised I suffered from some of the same problems as some of the other students who she was helping. I had an assessment date set, but between making this appointment and the date of the appointment – I had my accident. The brain injury from the accident forced further tests to be done to see whether my behaviour and problems were as a result of the accident or a learning difficulty. After this, I was later diagnosed with high functioning autism.

During the second year of art and design level 3 I had two jobs that I was delighted in working in. A few months before Christmas in 2018 and before the accident I had a cashier job in Biedronki Ltd on Barton Street and a cleaning job in PGL Travel Ltd on Penyard Lane. In Biedronki Ltd I was very punctual as well as helpful in other ways like when I was asked for by one of the managers to assist a Polish couple who required a temporary translator to help with a problem that arose with their phone/WiFi provider.

I enjoyed my time there but like the counselor, they too, saw I was different so they let me go before Christmas. For the cleaning job I used to ride my moped though tight winding county roads in the dark from PGL Travel Ltd after cleaning but as it was getting closer to winter it was getting darker earlier so I had to stop cleaning and start again after winter when it would be lighter in the late evening.

Just before leaving college, I moved out of my parents’ home to a supported accommodation project in Lydney, Taurus House operated by Rooftop Housing Group. I spent 8-9 months there where I got to learn how to live in an apartment complex style housing and got to do some things I wouldn’t have been able to do in my family home. I also met some interesting humans during my time and I enjoyed sharing my Polish food with them, like my best friend Jacob Bradfield who was at that time known as Zac Arnold.

Photo Wall and Drawers in No.2 Taurus House (Photo: nestorsk.com)

Near the end of the time I spent in supported accommodation, a social worker helped me find a flat in Mitcheldean where my parents helped me paint, clean and get the property ready to move in. I moved out of supported living on the first day of the first Covid-19 lockdown and into my parents’ house for a few months. Once I moved into my new flat, my case manager Clare, helped me get flooring, kitchen appliances, a new mattress, tumble dryer and a few other things.

Over the lockdown, I was at my parents’ friend’s house where he suggested I do a Harley Davidson wood art for him in return for some homemade wine. Later on, I found the wood, designed and burnt the design onto the wood before applying oil-based varnish and hand-delivering the commission to him on a special occasion at his home. This kick started my pyrography hobby and I have enjoyed working with a variety of individuals and organisations to create special projects ever since.

I also spent some time volunteering with Cinderford Upcycling for a while but had to pause after having some issues with fatigue. I also spend time volunteering with Bespoke Mentoring in Lydney where I have helped decorate their office and create special projects like an anniversary gift for one of the group’s founders, Paralympic Gold Medalist MBE Andy Lewis and his wife, Bekki.

With the help of Jacob, I’ve been setting up my website and creating business cards to help build my MangoFrog brand and further my pyrography hobby. My dream is to inspire others to create art and be very successful in life because of it.

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