Love will build a bridge

A grieving widow from Steyning has raised £822 for St Barnabas House by completing an art project begun by her late husband.

Teacher Joanna Carrington asked friends and family to continue the work David started with the hospice’s artist in residence, Stevan Stratford. “The summer before David died, he was having panic attacks and difficulty breathing,” says Joanna. “He became reluctant to go out, which wasn’t really like him. He went to the doctor about something else, and the GP referred him to St Barnabas for counselling. While he was there, he met Stevan, and they came up with the idea for this project.

“Our home is in Steyning, and the river runs behind the house. We often used to walk and ride along the Downs Link path, which runs along two disused railway lines and features several bridges. David decided to photograph them and then create artwork from the photographs. He was quite a studious man, and he threw himself into the research, which focused his mind and formed a nice distraction.”

When David died suddenly, without being able to finish his project, Joanna decided to complete it in his memory. “Just before he died, one of my pupils gave me a decoration with a message burnt into the wood. That gave David the idea to challenge his friends and family to cycle from Henfield to Shoreham, taking pictures of all nine bridges on the way. At the end, we would present them with a wooden medal.

“The event was in October, on the most lovely day – beautiful sunshine after horrible rain for days on either side, so we felt David had some input there. We had about 50 people taking part, and everyone was smiling and happy – I think David would have been proud.

“Everybody was so supportive, even down to the person who made the medals. When she heard what it was for, she said they would be a donation from her. It was so kind, because I just found her online and she had no links to the area or our family.”

Donations from friends and family meant the event raised £822 for St Barnabas House.

“David was the kind of person who liked to focus his mind on something rather than sit and watch telly,” says Joanna. “But since being ill, he’d lost a bit of his energy, and he couldn’t do so much. The art project took his mind off what was going on.

“I think it does make you feel you’ve got a future if you’re doing something positive. He got a lot out of it, and it made him feel ‘I’m still alive, I can do this.’”

All patients have access to art sessions as part of its Living Well service, as well as groups including gardening, cooking, singing and breathwork.