July 03 2020 – Michelle Turner
This week on Wednesday I had the wonderful honour of unveiling my portrait of Sir Tom Moore, the war veteran who raised £32million for the NHS, in its new home at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital. 'Local artist’s portrait of Sir Tom Moore donated to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital '
I originally created the portrait as part of an art workshop I run online and the response to the piece has been exceptional.
Captain Tom, as he was a few months, ago had completely captured the nation’s heart so I decided to focus my class on him as we had several of the painters with family in the NHS, he was local and an obvious choice. I don't normally paint with the students in that class, but that day I did and then posted my work in progress images as usual, and when it was finished the response to my (now) Captain Sir Tom’s portrait was incredible.
At at this point I decided I needed to auction the painting with all proceeds going to the NHS. My friend Guy Portelli suggested I get in touch with Karina Phillips who was hosting an auction with Paul Stafford and Robin Hutchinson coinciding with Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday, which I felt was very apt.
My painting joined artworks by over 58 national and professional artists in The ‘Artists for the NHS’ auction, hosted by Gallery Different and all funds raised went to Meals for the NHS. The auction raised over £17,000.
In an interesting twist, the portrait was purchased by a Mr John Slack, who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, having left the UK 45 years ago. John said:
“Like millions of others we saw Sir Tom's fund raising efforts balloon out of all expectations. His iconic image was then brilliantly captured by Michelle. I immediately thought it was a great idea and made a bid.”
Once purchased, John decided that the painting needed to stay in the UK and he asked me for suggestions as to where it could be displayed. As it turned out I had recently discovered that I knew Claire Alajooz, senior physician, who is Sir Tom’s GP and also part of the NHS team that inspired his fundraising. I asked Claire if she could suggest a hospital pertinent to Sir Tom. Claire contacted Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London who were delighted to receive the painting.
On Wednesday Claire and I the pleasure of unveiling Captain Sir Tom at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital with Dominic Conlin, Director of Strategy some of the wonderful medical team at the hospital Lesley Watts CEO and members of the nhs charity staff and the trust team.
Dominic Conlin, Hospital Director at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said:
“The team here at Chelsea and Westminster were, like the rest of the country, inspired by the achievements and example of Sir Tom. He came to symbolise the support the country was giving to the NHS and to key workers everywhere.
“We are immensely grateful to him, to Michelle the artist and to John Slack, who has gifted this wonderful portrait to the Trust. We are proud and grateful to be able to display the portrait at the hospital—it will be an honour for all of us to walk alongside him every day.”
The portrait will be a constant reminder of what he achieved for the NHS during an incredibly difficult time in UK history.
And I am incredibly proud and honoured to have been part of that.