In December 2017 I responded to a BBC article I had read about a WWII veteran who was lonely. Many people sent him gifts and cards and I thought it would be nice to offer to do his portrait as I had just taken up art again after many years absence.
Using photographs that his friend sent me, I created an initial draft portrait in pastels that I intended to use as the foundation for an acrylic painting.
Len, my husband, and I delivered a copy to the veteran and took him out for lunch.
Len then suggested we expanded on the idea and include veterans from all branches of the Services, with the use of their individual stories and insignia incorporated into each portrait.
We restricted the remit to surviving WW2 veterans who had served in uniform and explained to them that they would receive a completely free, framed copy of the portrait, with the original being used in exhibitions where we would collect for military charities (including the Royal British Legion, RAF Benevolent Fund and The Royal Navy).
We have had the privilege of meeting each of these amazing individuals in person (with the exception of Ted Adcook, whose portrait I managed to complete just prior to his passing).
The most emotional aspect of this experience for Len and me (and there have been tears and laughter in equal measure) has been meeting a generation of people who witnessed extraordinary hardship and sacrifice but who are the most candid, humble, courageous and unassuming people whose only wish is that we continue their legacy: to always remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
This project is our personal display of gratitude to the generation who experienced WWII.