Dementia doesn’t hold back artist Heather!

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Dementia doesn’t hold back artist Heather!

 

Today I met Heather, a lovely lady with a huge personality and although she still needed a little assistance (as she suffers with Vascular Dementia) she is vociferously independent.

Heather hails from Scotland, and she is a very proud Scot – as a child, she grew up with a younger brother in the Wirral, and her parents regularly used to take her and her brother on holiday to the Isle of Skye where they enjoyed whiling away the summer fishing and enjoying the clean Scottish air. Her fondness for the Isle of Skye is apparent as her eyes gleamed as she spoke about her childhood memories.

Heather enjoyed school, though not academia, but her fondness for education mainly led her into the art studio where she developed a love of portraiture particularly drawing small children playing. Heather told us that her teacher at school told her to ‘go into the studio my love, paint and enjoy and make your career from this.’

On of Heather's newest additions to her studio.

One of Heather’s newest additions to her studio.

As the war broke out, Heather’s talents took her in a different direction. As a young girl she was part of the resistance, decoding messages sent from enemy lines, all from a field outside of London. The stories that she could tell us! Heather later married her beloved Gilbert, who was an international livestock trader who particularly dealt with the Chinese, Japanese and Russians.

Heather now lives in a little village called Llanbedr-y-Cenin near Llandudno in the Conwy Valley. Over the last few years she has been living with dementia; her communication is a little repetitive as she struggles to remember all of the details of recent conversations, but her manner is charming, her voice peppered with ‘darlings’ and her bond with her carer Donna is apparent. Warm and caring, they look after each other implicitly.

Heather with her live-in carer Donna.

Heather with her live-in carer Donna.

Heather goes for a walk twice a day and likes to have a go at the telegraph crossword. A keen bridge player over the years, she also travelled in her VW campervan which she at one point turned into her art studio! Still painting to this day, her studio is filled with paintings of landscapes, portraits, and still-life, all in chalk, charcoal and oils, her brushes kept in pots next to her easel.

When asked which one was her favourite painting, she simply replied ‘the one of my husband in the corner.’ Heather lost her dear Gilbert 15 years ago and she still misses him dearly but her carer Donna and her family and friends keep her company.

Heather with all of her paintings she has created and cherished over the decades.With her painting of her beloved Gilbert in the left hand corner.

Heather with her paintings that she has created and cherished over the decades. The painting of her beloved Gilbert is in the left-hand corner.

Heather has had a series of sell-out exhibitions of her paintings throughout North Wales in locations such as Beddgelert, Beaumaris in Anglesey, and Betws-y-Coed in the Conwy valley. She also regularly exhibited at the Chelsea Art Society in London. This year, Heather very kindly designed a Helping Hands Christmas card, which was distributed to all of our current customers!

Heather's beautiful artwork made it on our Christmas card this year. Here she is with her Live-In Care Manager Carol Tomkins.

Heather’s beautiful artwork was used as our Christmas card this year. Here she is with her Live-In Care Manager Carol Tomkins

Donna has supported Heather very closely over the last year. She lives in Heather’s house with her and is her companion and personal assistant; together they enjoy going to church and for a tipple at the local pub Ye Olde Bull Inn, one of the oldest pubs in Wales. Donna is one of a multitude of carers whose compassion, skill and patience allow her to do the most extraordinary things for another human being every single day. She, in turn, is supported by her Live-in Care Manager Carol!

With one of her favourite paintings.

Heather with one of her favourite paintings

I am humbled to have met Heather, and even more humbled to meet Donna. Our Live-in carers are extraordinary human beings – it takes a very special individual to be able to do the job well and we ensure as a business that we take care of our carers.

As our CEO Tim Lee always reminds us, “If we take care of our carers, they will take care of our customers.” Tim is a man of his word; he truly protects this opinion and instils this in all of his teams.

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