HE has had a traumatic few years but Joe Wilson hopes his story of courage and fighting through hard times will inspire others not to give up after he has overcome a harrowing six years to become a professional photographer.

The 21 year old is also due to stage the first exhibition of his work at the Allen Gallery in Alton in July, and much of it is due to the enduring love he and his girlfriend Hayley Wells share.

He was a school boy in Guildford when at the age of 15 when out cycling he crashed into a car.

“It was the only time I didn’t wear a helmet and the Surrey Air Ambulance saved my life at the roadside,” he said. “Later, I did a charity bike ride for them and raised £2,000.”

Joe was in a coma for three weeks and it took two years for him to learn to walk and talk again, although the accident has left weakness on one side of his body.

Alleged domestic issues saw Joe move into the YMCA in Guildford, but because of alleged drug taking there, he only stayed six months.

“While this was going on I was in the middle of my second year of A-Levels and found life really hard, but I didn’t quit,” he said.

Eventually, he gained an A-Level in photography.

“I came out of college with three A-Levels and after a brief period moved into Alton’s Treloar Campbell Court in order to become more independent. I was eligible because of my head injury. After two years he had to seek new accommodation and he and Hayley recently moved into a flat in Alton.

His photographic work has taken him all over Surrey and Hampshire as well as Scotland and now Hayley has learned to drive he no longer has to cycle to the locations.

One day he hopes he and Hayley will have enough money to marry.

“It is definitely on the cards and her mum, Karen, and dad, Phil, give us a lot of help and I hope my exhibition will be a success which will be a great boost to our plans.”

The exhibition of Joe’s work will be held at the Allen Gallery from July 4-28. He can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].