By Helen Cross

Life is a rich tapestry of dramatic highs and devastating lows and when you’re dealt a pretty lousy card it can be all too easy to throw your hands up in the air, surrender, and bury your head in the sand.

However, for 30-year-old Tamsin Thomson, the artist and creative force behind Tamsin Thomson Art based at Fernycastle Farm, near Duns, in the Scottish Borders, giving up on her family, friends and her dreams when diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29, was never on the cards. There were just too many people she cared about to give up on life.

Having created a successful art business selling her own unique and creative artwork using acrylic paints, drawing inspiration from the surrounding countryside she grew up in and now lives in with her husband Fergus and their two children Clark (4) and Ellena (2) Tamsin’s positivity, energy, enthusiasm and zest for life shines through when you speak to her, in much the same way it shines through in her signature artwork.

Speaking about the diagnosis and how she helped herself get her life back on track Tamsin explains: “To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I cried for a week but then realised I had to deal with it head on not only for myself but for my family.”

Tamsin’s husband Fergus, a rural charted surveyor for Davidson and Robertson was her rock. Tamsin adds: “Fergus was there day in day out pulling us all through. His strength of character was was so important throughout. I would have been lost without him.

“Fergus and my children drove me forward. They were the catalyst for getting me out of my bed each morning but if I was too poorly after treatment they would lie with me in bed, which was such a comfort. I had to fight this for them.

“My older sister Ashley, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 22, 10 years earlier. Our family had already been rocked once by this awful disease but to be struck twice seemed so unfair. However, she was amazing. She made things easy as she could relate to how I was feeling. I could offload to her and she would understand. When I was at my lowest she knew the right things to say and do.”

Tamsin continues: “I refused to go to any cancer support groups. I’m naturally a really positive person but selfishly I wanted to channel this positive energy into helping me get better. I surrounded myself with only my husband and my closest family and friends who provided so much positive support but I could also let my guard down with this network when I felt really really low.

“I tried to keep as fit and active as a I could and I also started to paint seascapes and landscapes. But I’ve gone back to animals as when I reflect back on that artwork it reminds me of darker times. However, painting provided an escape and it still does, but now it is a much more colourful and brighter escape.

“Thanks to the wonderful team at the Borders General Hospital, the Western in Edinburgh and my family and friends I am on the road to recovery. There are no signs of the cancer and the outlook is positive. But now I want to give something back to others who have gone through what I have.”

Not only is Tamsin set to open an art gallery, studio and shop on the family farm later this year, to showcase her impressive artwork to a wider audience, she also has an ambition to begin a charity to help younger cancer patients regain their confidence during and after treatment.

Tamsin may be a farmer’s daughter with a love for the outdoors and countryside and someone who never thinks twice about rolling up her sleeves on the farm to help with their flock of Zwartbles but she also doesn’t shy away from her passion for fashion and style.

She goes on to describe how loosing her hair during the chemotherapy dented her confidence, even more so when she was already physically and mentally fragile and weak: “There are no support groups to help women my age. There seems to be help for those up until the age of 22 and then a gap. As a result many young women find themselves lost.

“Good quality wigs that look natural and help you feel good about yourself when you’re at your lowest are expensive. My wig cost £500 but not everyone can afford that. It’s a lot of money. So my aim is to start a charity, to help younger women build their confidence during and after treatment and make them feel more feminine. I want to raise money for wigs, provide makeovers and allow them to meet people like myself who have gone through a similar situation. To get cancer is a blow but I want to provide a glimmer of light during this dark time, to help younger women feel good about themselves. “

This is one determined and inspirational lady who I suspect injects the same touch of magic into her eye catching artwork as she does into the lives of those she meets.

Having loved art since a little girl, she would sit at the kitchen table and paint for hours. However she went onto study archaeology at Glasgow University, dabbled as a hairdresser and then found herself working in an art gallery. It was at this point she decided to pick up her paint brushes and the rest is history. She has never looked back and it is clear why. However, although the business is going from strength to strength the one thing cancer has taught Tamsin is not to take things for granted.

Tamsin highlights: “As cliche as it may sound, getting cancer at 29 really stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking about what I was doing with my life and as a result it has changed my priorities for the better. I was getting caught up in the craziness of the business, trying to balance work, my family and the farm. The juggle was hard. I was working long ours and not spending enough time with my children.

“As well as the gallery and charity work, Fergus and I are about to take over the reigns from my parents at Ferneycastle. But in the here and now my focus is my family and I want to appreciate the little things. I want my children to be able to run free and enjoy their childhood in this beautiful corner of Scotland, which is not only my source of inspiration but is also our home. And I’m so grateful for that.”

You can see Tamsin's work at the Royal Highland Show where she is exhibiting, Stand 810 in the Shopping Arcade opposite the food hall.