I first met Felix almost four years ago when he came to watch his younger sister at Mini Pony Club Camp. He was 12 then and as now, loves a crowd and better still loves a camera, especially when he is in focus. But while I met him then I didn't know him as a person and certainly didn't understand just how much of sense of humour he has in spite of adversity.
Putting things into perspective, just living on a day to day basis is a more than just challenge for Felix, but moving that aside he certainly lives life to the full. As an example, he recently went boulder climbing (in a 4 x 4) and is off again before long to participate in an off-road Land Rover driving experience, so you get the idea. Life is for living and Felix certainly wants to do that.
He is a typical teenager too - fashion and fast cars are top of his agenda. His current favourite brand of the moment, is Abercrombie. His wardrobe has what he likes in any number of colour combinations. His super wheelchair is adorned with all sorts of brands - Ferrari and Vans are just a couple. The day I was photographing, he opted for a white long-sleeved logo tee and grey combat joggers and looked really good. He was so excited to see a camera with a big lens!
Once we got started, Felix's excitement was difficult to contain. Tell him look up and keep his eyes open, would more often than not result in him looking at the floor and closing his eyes. But why not? He was so engaging and really knows what he wants to achieve and everyone around him is left in no doubt about that. In the time that I was with him, I felt Felix's enthusiasm. His ability to communicate entirely through his face is quite extraordinary. His eyes and more importantly his tongue are his ways of speech and everyone around him totally get his every word.
Not only that, his cat Frank, family black Labs - mum and daughter Bunty and Mini - as well as all the numerous horses all know and understand Felix. Frank opted out of being included in any photos with Felix, but the Labs and George the pony (because Felix chose him over Reko or Fly) were all game on to be included.
As we finished the indoor session, it was quite clear that Felix was in pain and in spite of trying to adjust him in his chair, he wanted out. And this is where is care team, on the day Rob and Jess, work with mum Tori to do what works for Felix. So we opted for a little time out and a snack - Felix tucked into a Viennese Whirl and coffee. 20 minutes later, he was a different child. Relaxed and far more comfortable, we headed off outside to do a second batch of photographs in the woods. Bunty and Mini came too, had a quick swim in a very dirty pond, and then joined us to be part of Felix's afternoon. Just as we were heading home, we deviated briefly to the yard as Felix was keen to have a photo with George. We were on borrowed time with the light at the end of the day, but I wouldn't have missed it.
It was clear by the time we'd finished, Felix was tired. So much stimulation took its toll, but regardless, he was still laughing as Rob helped him to bed and as soon as his head was on the pillow, he was asleep before the lights were out.
I was only in Felix's company for a couple of hours, but learnt so much about a boy I'd only seen rather than got to know. He is quite an extraordinary character. His family and care team are all equally extraordinary, providing the very best surroundings and care to ensure he can live his life to the fullest extent for as long as possible.
Here's to you Felix and so hoping to see a teenage model career take off in 2019.