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Alison Lapper Says Late Son Parys Was Bullied Over Her Disability

September 2, 2019

The artist Alison Lapper has said her late son was taunted by other children at school because of her disability.

Parys Lapper, 19, was found in a hotel in Worthing, West Sussex, last month after he died from a suspected accidental drug overdose.

Lapper, who was eight months pregnant with her son when she posed for Marc Quinn’s celebrated Trafalgar Square statue, said he had suffered with depression and anxiety after being bullied at school.

“I could see how anxious he was,” said Lapper, who told the Sunday Times that Parys had asked her to stop attending parents’ evenings when he was 13.

She added that when they arrived at the school “we were the show. The next day Parys would go in and they would rip pieces out of him.”

Lapper was born with the condition phocomelia, meaning she has no arms and shortened legs. Eventually, Parys was moved to a smaller unit by his school because of his struggle to cope with the taunting, but dropped out.

During this period, said Lapper, he spent more time online, which furthered his declining mental health. “Parys didn’t like his body,” she said. “I thought I could teach him to, but it’s a social media nightmare, isn’t it? There’s always someone with a six-pack or bigger.”

She added that the irony of her son’s concerns about his image was not lost on her. “Look at me, for God’s sake,” she said, “and I really love my body. I’m not ashamed about it at all.”

Lapper said that despite her efforts to help him, Parys had become more introverted and had begun taking drugs.

After his behaviour deteriorated, she was forced to have him taken into care at 16 but kept in regular contact with him. “He was out of control and I couldn’t help,” she said, adding that his problems had been a “vicious circle”.

“His mental health would get worse so he’d take drugs and the drugs would then make his mental health worse.”

She added: “I don’t want my son to be remembered as a junkie, as just another drugs death. The drugs were a consequence of what he had been through.”

Parys was one of 25 subjects of the BBC television series Child of Our Time, which documented the lives of a diverse group of children born at the turn of the millennium.

His funeral was at Worthing crematorium on Thursday.

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