TRIBUTES have been paid to a disabled man who was found dead in Shinewater Lake last week.
The body of 23-year-old Stuart Wickison was found by people fishing at the popular lake.
He had been reported missing some time earlier from his home at Shinewater Court in Milfoil Drive, a residential centre for people with physical disabilities run by the Disabilities Trust.
Investigators believe Mr Wickison, who suffered from a rare degenerative muscular wasting disease that only affects men, toppled out of his wheelchair and into the water.
His battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy was highlighted in a Channel Five programme in 2007 called The Boy Who Will Never Grow Old.
The then 19-year-old spoke poignantly at how he was a healthy toddler but by the time he was 14 he was in a wheelchair, unable to raise his arms about his head and needing 24-hour care to cater for his most basic needs.
At the time he admitted he was facing up to his imminent death and said, “I know that I will die some time soon, and that before I die I will be very ill - possibly paralysed and in pain.
“Of course, I go through moments of great bleakness and darkness when I think about what lies ahead, but I try not to dwell on it for too long otherwise I would go mad.”
Mr Wickison, who was attached to a ventilator at night and had to be moved several times because it was painful for him to lie in one position for too long, also said, “It is frustrating to have everything done for you. It’s particularly bad when I am ill.
“I have gone to bed at night and wished that I didn’t wake up in the morning, but I quickly come to my senses and just get on with life.”
Mr Wickison, who lived in Heathfield for most of his life, was diagnosed with DMD in 1991 at the age of three.
He went to mainstream primary and secondary schools, and despite being badly bullied at the latter, he left with GCSEs, obtained A levels and studied for a foundation degree in art and design at university.
He also composed music and painted pictures using his mouth.
Helen Tridell from the Disabilities Trust said Stuart was a highly intelligent and artistic young man.
She said, “We are all devastated by Stuart’s death. He will be sorely missed by all at Shinewater. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.”
An inquest will be opened and adjourned within the next week.