Have a heart for the NHS

A sculpture made from obsolete hospital equipment to celebrate 70 years of the National Health Service will take the shape of a heart to reflect the nation’s love of the NHS.

Oliver Vaughan-Jones
Oliver Vaughan-Jones

The sculpture being created by The British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, will be unveiled at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s charity Fun Day on July 7.

Old pieces of equipment that can no longer be used or repaired include blood pressure monitors, parts of hospital beds, surgical hands, microscopes, a former anaesthetic machine, a broken dialysis machine and wheelchairs.

The public was asked for suggestions for the sculpture and a design submitted by 34-year- old Oliver Vaughan-Jones, who was diagnosed with a life-altering neurological condition 10-years- ago, stood out above all others.

Oliver, from Montgomery, is a former Product Design Engineering student at Brunel University in London. In 2008 he was diagnosed with M.E. - Myalgic encephalomyelitis – an illness characterised by a range of neurological symptoms and signs, muscle pain with intense physical or mental exhaustion, relapses and specific cognitive disabilities.

Mr Knowles said: “It was incredibly inspiring to read all the different suggestions but we all felt the hairs on the back of our necks stand to attention as we read through Oliver’s blueprints. He is obviously an extremely talented young man and the determination he has shown to submit a full portfolio of fabulous drawing only goes to emphasise how important projects like this are to people who really care about our NHS.”

Oliversaid: “I am hugely honoured to have been asked to liaise with the artist, Luke Kite.

“My illness means I can be bed-bound for weeks at a time, but I am constantly striving to get better and my passion for art and product design often helps me through the darkest days.

“Hospitals are not without their faults but the NHS is a world leading organisation and I look forward to being able to give something back to the system.”

Mr Knowles also has personal reasons for wanting to do something spectacular to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

He added: “A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and became seriously ill, and although I have now put that behind me it has given me great empathy with the NHS and with hospitals generally.

"I was in hospital for three months – first at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and then at The Christie in Manchester – and I will always be grateful for the care I got from our National Health Service.

“We will create something that stands the test of time and not only reflects our love for the NHS but also the kind, caring and hard-working people who work in the organisation throughout Shropshire.

“This project and what its signifies is incredibly important to us, the NHS is genuinely at the very heart of our society, there really isn’t a more befitting imagine to use than creating a heart. The NHS is loved by all and offers the nation care when it’s most needed. A heart is by far the best illustration of how the people value and need the NHS.”

Simon Wright, Chief Executive of SaTH, met with Mr Knowles last week to discuss the plans for the sculpture. He also presented him with a ‘Community Champion’ certificate in recognition of his support and commitment to the Trust.

He said: “I really like the idea of a heart design and look forward to seeing the final creation when it is unveiled at the Fun Day."

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