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Wife wins award after painting her husband's stay in Harefield Hospital for heart transplant

Rachel Ward was awarded the Judge's Choice award for her painting, depicting a happy moment during a hospital visit

Andrew and wife, Rachel

A woman whose husband is recovering from a heart transplant, captured a moment in time during his hospital stay and won an award for it.

Rachel Ward, a 51-year-old writer from Bath, won the Judge’s Choice Award for her painting ‘The Visit’, painted during her husband Andrew’s stay at Harefield Hospital .

She told getwestlondon : “He’s been living in Harefield since July and he had his heart transplant in November so I’ve been a regular visitor to the Harefield area. He’s still in intensive care, he’s quite poorly.”

Mrs Ward, who has been painting as hobby for two years, found solace in painting as her ‘therapy’ and used it to “deal with the stress” of her husband being ill.

She said: “It’s a picture of him and my son in the first room he was in when he was admitted. I was trying to paint a picture to reflect that we were still the same people even though our circumstances were changing quite dramatically.

“It was the first time I’d taken the kids to visit him since he’d been admitted so it was just a nice, happy, family visit. We were watching the tennis on the Telly and just being ourselves. I was trying to reflect that really.”

'The Visit' shows Professor Andrew Ward and their son Peter at Harefield Hospital

‘The Visit’ was included in the staff and patient exhibition, part of the arts programme at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

Open to all patients, staff, volunteers and the immediate families of patients, staff or volunteers, the annual arts programme aims to enhance the patient experience and hospital environment and celebrates their creativity.

It has run across both sites, Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, for 14 years and any type of visual art - including sculpture, paintings, ceramic, photography and textiles – can be submitted.

The four winners were announced in early December, with two winning categories for each of the two sites: Best picture and Most popular.

Mrs Ward entered just for fun after seeing a flyer on the wall during one of her visits to her husband.

She said: “I had the painting in my husband’s room for a while for him to enjoy and I thought I’d try putting it into the competition because it was relevant to the hospital.

“I was really pleased when I found out I’d won the award. Because my husband was so poorly the news got a bit lost but thinking about it now I’m really pleased. It’s the first time I’ve ever entered a painting into a competition or an exhibition.”

Andrew Ward, a University of Bath developmental biology professor, had heart failure due cardiomyopathy six years prior to his operation.

Mrs Ward said: “Originally we were told it might be viral in origin but over the last year they have suspected it has a genetic element, although we haven’t got to the bottom of it yet.

“A transplant was really his only prospect of regaining a decent quality of life. Although he is very poorly at present, we still hope that this will be possible. He hopes to be able to go back to work eventually.”

A true likeness! Andrew Ward with his wife's award-winning painting

Mrs Ward’s painting, which was one of 150 submissions, is still on display at The Hungry Hare, at Harefield Hospital, until Saturday, January 30.

Karen Taylor, arts manager at rb&hArts, an organisation which runs the exhibition at Harefield and Royal Brompton hospitals, said: “Rachel was a deserving winner.

“Her painting portrayed a very touching scene that many of our patients and relatives will be able relate to. The judge said it was well composed and beautifully painted, so Rachel should very proud of her achievement.

“We are grateful to all of the 150 people who submitted their work to be displayed across both of our sites, contributing to a fantastic exhibition. We have been so impressed by the level of talent from staff and patients at the Trust.”

If you would like to find out more information about the Trust’s arts programme, visit their website .

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