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.
The unique sculpture, which is being created by The British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, will be unveiled at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s (SaTH) charity Fun Day on Saturday 7 July.
Old pieces of equipment that can no longer be used or repaired include: obsolete blood pressure monitors, parts of hospital beds, surgical hands, microscopes, a former anaesthetic machine, a broken dialysis machine and wheelchairs.
Both organisations called on the people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales to suggest ideas for the design of the sculpture and the idea of a heart was by far and away the most popular.
However, a design submitted by 34-year-old Oliver Vaughan-Jones, a regular patient at hospitals across the country since being diagnosed with a life-altering neurological condition 10-years-ago, stood out above all others and Clive Knowles, owner of the British Ironwork Centre, wants him to link up and share ideas with artist Luke Kite.
Oliver is a former Product Design Engineering student at Brunel University in London, but in 2008 he was diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic encephalomyelitis) – an illness that is characterised by a range of neurological symptoms and signs, muscle pain with intense physical or mental exhaustion, relapses and specific cognitive disabilities.
Clive said: “We are overwhelmed with the number of suggestions, it really goes to show how much people love the NHS, and therefore it seems entirely appropriate that the sculpture be of a heart.
“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 who has fallen on hard times through illness but 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.”
Oliver, of Montgomery in Mid Wales, added: “I am hugely honoured to have been asked to liaise with Luke. I have seen some of his creations and they are phenomenally good. Being able to have a small amount of input in this major project is very exciting.
“My illness means I can be bed-bound for weeks at a time, but even though I have been unwell for a long time I am constantly striving to get better and my passion for art and product design often helps me through the darkest days.
“Having been in and out of hospitals on more occasions than I care to imagine, I really appreciate the care and kindness that has been shown to me over the years. Hospitals are not without their faults, I for one know that better than most, but the NHS is a world leading organisation and I look forward to being able to give something back to the system.”
Clive 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.”
Artist Luke Kite added: “This is the most difficult project to date and it is testing ever sinew of my imagination.”
Simon Wright, Chief Executive of SaTH, met with Clive at RSH 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 am very grateful to Clive and everyone at the British Ironwork Centre for their support and look forward to working with them on this exciting project.
“I really like the idea of a heart design, which he tells me will be ‘realistic but with a twist’, and look forward to seeing the final creation when it is unveiled at the Fun Day. He has even promised me the chance to go down to the Centre in Oswestry and have a go at welding an item of equipment to the sculpture!”
British Ironwork Centre Sculptor – Luke Kite
Oliver, of Montgomery in Mid Wales