Drew Graham at his easel working on a mouth painting

Artist materials for Drew's Pop-up Gym Challenge

Aspiring triathlete and athletics coach, Drew Graham, tragically broke his neck in an accident in 2014. Despite leaving him paralysed below the chest and without the use of his hands, Drew hasn't let these challenges define or stop him. Three years on and he is setting up a Pop-up Gym charity to help other people with spinal cord injuries (SCI). It has adapted facilities, rehabilitation and therapies in a friendly environment. As such a worthy project and a highly motivated individual, the CiaO Foundation was only too happy to recognise Drew with a Primrose Award, helping to supply artist materials for him and his new enterprising challenge.  

Drew was was working in the United States at the time of his accident, so medical insurance initially helped with his rehabilitation needs. His return to the UK though, came with much adjustment and a realisation that the facilities available to him in the USA, were not accessible in the North East of England. Drew didn't just accept that as final, instead he took on the new challenge to set up and run the ‘Pop-up Gym’ service. As well as the physical rehabilitation services, one of the therapies provided will be painting classes, something Drew has become quite accomplished in, were attendees will be taught to paint by mouth.

Pop-up Gym is now a registered charity and is about to open its doors with a launch in November this year.

 Drew Graham at the easel, mouth painting and preparing for some Pop-up gym therapy sessions


“Getting this Primrose Award will enable Drew to help others in a similar position to himself and share the enjoyment of painting for pleasure. To be able to help others is the benefit to Drew.  His motto as a coach and since the accident is ‘ Never Give Up, Never Surrender’ - I think that says it all.”

Yvonne Bell, Friend and Trustee of Pop-up Gym

Drew has overcome so many challenges presented to him and it hasn't stopped him aiming for more. This new endeavour will provide opportunities for himself and so many others, which is something we firmly believe in and is at the heart of the CiaO Foundation. We applaud his amazing efforts and wish him every success. " 

Jamie McGhee  Media Manager CiaO Foundation