Many hands make light work of beautiful mural of unity at Shropshire hospital

A special mural to symbolise unity and togetherness amongst NHS colleagues has been unveiled at Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital.

Victoria Sugden, League of Friends Charity Director, with the mural
Victoria Sugden, League of Friends Charity Director, with the mural

The piece of art features the outline of hundreds of staff members’ hands, who work at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) near Oswestry, who came forward to be part of the mural, when the call was put out by the hospital’s League of Friends.

Once the hand outlines were collected, the League of Friends passed them on to local textile artist, Lesley Smith, from Whitchurch, who sewed them onto the base of the mural.

In a bid to keep the mural bright and colourful, while incorporating a touch of RJAH legend – Lesley has designed the mural to be in the shape of a peacock, in honour of the hospital’s late and much-loved, resident peacock, Percy, who died in early 2017, after residing on the hospital’s grounds for more than 20 years.

The outcome is a beautiful visual representation of the teamwork and commitment shown by all RJAH staff members, particularly during the Covid pandemic.

Textile artist Lesley Smith in her workshop

Lesley, who has previously been a patient at the hospital, said she was keen to not only give something back but also provide some much-needed cheer, during these challenging times.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with how the mural has turned out.

"It was a total pleasure to do, especially as it’s something that’s hopefully given the hospital’s wonderful staff members a bit of a boost during these tough times.

“As a past patient myself, I know what fantastic care staff give at this hospital, so I was very keen to give something back.

"However I didn’t quite expect it to have the response it has done.

"When I was first speaking to Victoria Sugden from the hospital’s League of Friends about this idea, I only expected to receive around 20 or so hand outlines – when in fact, we ended up with 250 people wanting to take part, which is just fantastic.

The mural

“What was really heartening was the fact that so many staff members from all areas of the hospital got involved – from nurses, doctors and pharmacy staff to housekeepers, those working in admin roles and even the hospital’s chaplain.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to give a mention to my neighbour, Sam Denman, who is a designer.

"Sam helped me get the overall composition of the piece right, and was a great sounding board, who was always happy to advise and comment when I needed someone to check things were looking okay. She also painted the face for Percy, before I beaded him.”

Victoria Sugden, League of Friends charity director, added: “We are extremely grateful to Lesley for the hard work, time and effort she has put into creating this beautiful mural, which will always remind us of how hard everyone worked during these times, and how amazingly the hospital pulled together, in true RJAH style.

“Thank you to Lesley and to all the staff, who got involved with this wonderful show of unity.”

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