By Roz Skinner
Visitors meeting artist, writer and gallery-owner Ian Williams again this year may notice little change – but actually they are lucky to be able to meet him at all after an incident in Croatia last year.
Enthusiastic cyclist Ian, who owns Waternish-based Brae Fasach Gallery and Cafe, explains: “We were on a boat and cycle holiday in September 2016. The boat dropped us off at one end of the island and then we would cycle to the other end and rejoin the boat. We had a great time, as the scenery was outstanding.”
He was in the lead of their group, on the fourth day of the trip. “All I can remember is that I was cycling in the lead, probably around 30 seconds from the end of the ride. We were approaching a village.”
The accident was seen by two children, who describe Ian hitting the first of a series of defective sleeping policemen. His front tyre collided with the metal lip of the last hump, three or four inches proud of the road, catapulting Ian off.
Ian says: “My head hit the handlebars and the brake handle penetrated my helmet. Thankfully, the reinforced lenses of my glasses detached and protected my eye, but the impact threw me forward. I fractured my face in four places, including my eye socket and cheekbone, and I sustained a deep wound above my eye which required 20 stitches.”
Gill, Ian's wife and a trained first aider, rescued him from the tangle of the bicycle. ““I was later treated at the scene by a doctor and then taken in an extremely rickety ambulance. Every time we went round a bend, Gill and our friend had to put their backs against the stretcher to stop me rolling off!
“When we arrived, a gigantic Russian rescue helicopter was waiting with paramedics.“
At the main hospital, “They inserted a titanium plate into my face and the doctors released me. I severely damaged the nerves from my teeth to my cheek. They have warned me I may never recover fully.
“Every time you have a trauma and come out of it alive and not too seriously hurt, it makes you feel grateful for everything you have. To that end, I'm looking forward to another year in the gallery and extending what I already do.” This includes a bright and cheerful cafe area in Ian's gallery.
“I will be producing tea, coffee, cake, homemade savoury and sweet pastries, as well as scones, homemade soup and gluten-free cakes made by our friend, Maxine,” Ian says. “I want to encourage cyclists and walkers to visit the cafe, where they will find a fresh glass of water,” remarks Ian. “We also have a disabled-access toilet which they are welcome to use.”
Visitors will be surrounded with a variety of art, including Ian's ceramic, stylised penguins, Gill's photographs of the Northern Lights and Ian's works that combine poetry and painting.
Inspiration for Ian's words usually strikes when he is outside. “Then I have to hurry home and write them down as soon as possible! Five of my stories are available to download on Amazon Kindle and I will hopefully be releasing another three in 2017.”
Ian is living proof that even a traumatic accident can have a silver lining. It has inspired him to seize every new day and given him a sense of gratitude for the life he has and the place where he lives and works.