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Memory mural is picture perfect for older patients

13 April 2017


Staff, patients and visitors using the corridor to the Day Assessment Unit (DAU) at Southend University Hospital are welcomed by a new stunning colourful seaside mural, depicting the best of Southend in the sixties.

Styled on the old-style holiday promotion railway posters, the picture of the past is a real sunny delight that recaptures the fashions, pastimes and transport of the period, all created by 62-year-old hospital volunteer and amateur artist, Richard Ashton, from Rayleigh.

Richard, who brought the design to life over a six month period, mostly at weekends, said: "It is a montage of different landmarks so is not geographically accurate. Staff used to tell me they loved coming in on Monday morning to see what had been added."

The mural is a feast for the eyes, along with the pier and bandstand - you can almost hear the music - the design includes for-hire deckchairs, seagulls, a Rossi's ice cream van and an open-top bus.

An art school drop-out, Richard went on to a successful career as a building surveyor, but he always hankered after using his creative streak. Just six months after retiring, Richard found himself in a hospital bed after his blood pressure dropped dramatically and he was unable to keep food down. He was eventually diagnosed with Addison's disease, a malfunctioning of the adrenal gland.

The grandfather of four, said: "I only found out afterwards that I was half a day away from dying and wanted to express my thanks for my life-saving treatment."

It was then that Richard approached the fundraising team with his artistic idea for creating a memory-jogging talking point and he certainly delivered.

DAU Manager, Louisa Brown, said: "We have a lot of patients with memory impairment so are really pleased with what Richard has created. It has exceeded all our expectations. The mural is stunning and brings a smile to everyone's faces."