New Zealand M.F.P.A. Artist Grant Sharman meets Prince Harry
New Zealand mouth painter Grant Sharman had a "once in a lifetime moment" when he met Prince Harry on May 15 at the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit at Otara - during the Prince's time in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Rugby Foundation was approached by the government to be an element of Prince Harry's programme as he is the patron of United Kingdom's Rugby Football Union Injured Players Fund.
Prince Harry met a group of patients who paint with their mouths, with the Prince exclaiming "don't tell me you have done that with your mouth" when he saw their artwork.
Sharman, 53, who broke his back playing rugby in 1977, was invited along to the unit for the royal visit and gave Prince Harry a picture he had painted of him standing next to an Apache helicopter.
Sharman began painting with his mouth holding the brush after his rugby injury left him a tetraplegic. He became a full member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 1988.
Sharman said the painting was a nice reminder for the Prince of his time in the service.
"I sketched it out (the Apache) and I think it came out okay," he said.
The Prince was the "real deal" according to Sharman.
"He's such a genuine person. When he talks to you it's like you're the only person there. When he was talking to me there was about 15 or 20 media with cameras and stuff but when I was talking to him I forgot they were there.
"There's no airs and graces. He spent his time in the service...he's been to Afghanistan...he's just another guy, a really nice guy. I feel for him, his mum being killed, but I thought she'd be really proud of him - he's got that common touch."
The meeting was extra special for Sharman as he said his parents had immigrated to New Zealand from England and were fans of the royal family.
"Mum passed away four years ago and dad a few years before that, but they would be pretty proud. I always thought my Mum looked a bit like the Queen. It was a nice touch really.
"It was a once in a lifetime moment that you don't think is going to happen. It was just a real privilege to meet a unique and wonderful guy."
Prince Harry had been in New Zealand from May 9 through to May 16 attending events in Wellington, Invercargill, Stewart Island, Christchurch, Linton, Whanganui and Auckland.