Jez is a skilled musician and actor with a long freelance association with Mind the Gap, a theatre company based in Bradford. His Mind the Gap credits include: George in ‘Of Mice and Men’, the lead in ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, Henry Higgins in ‘Pygmalion’, Don Quixote in ‘Don Quixote’, Cyrano in ‘Cyrano’, and a one man show, ‘On The Verge’ written by Mike Kenny and based on Jez’s adventures down Route 66 in America with Mind the Gap.
Music remains Jez’s first love. He has composed pieces for his own gigs and also numerous performances, he’s jammed with Johnny Dankworth, gigged with Vandergraph Generator and featured on a number of albums. In 2003, he won the European Song Contest for Learning Disabled Artists, receiving his award in Hamburg, Germany.
Jez has Williams syndrome, a learning disability that means, amongst other things, he has extremely sensitive hearing and a tendency to be overfriendly (interestingly, the American Williams syndrome website doesn’t count the latter as part of the condition – perhaps, as Jez discovered when touring in America, because many people in the USA are overfriendly!).
“A lot of my life, I’ve been sort of shoved around in a pack, from place to place, from special school, to sheltered accommodation, to college. I’ve had some good times and some bad times and I know it’s a cliche, but the music has pulled me through”, he says.
Mind the Gap’s Artistic Director Tim Wheeler met Jez whilst he was at college undertaking a music course for learning disabled adults. Jez has now toured across the UK, performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and in China, Canada, Hong Kong, USA and beyond – both with Mind the Gap and with Mencap. Based in a Mencap Group Home in Nottingham Jez is exploring options to move to Bradford to be closer to Mind the Gap and live more independently.