Continuing Bonds with Steven

“The finished portrait is lovely and it’s made me feel closer to my dad because it looks so realistic.” Leah, Steven’s daughter

Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds is a collaboration between St Oswald’s Hospice and Local Artist, Leanne Pearce. Working with 12 bereaved and pre-bereaved families who have accessed our bereavement support service and/or other care services, Leanne has created stunning paintings of their loved ones to support them in their ‘continuing bonds’ process. Here is the story of one of the families who took part in this unique and beautiful project.

Steven was a single dad living in Spain with his 2 children, Archie and Leah.

When he began to feel ill on a visit home to see family, Steven went to the doctor and was given the devastating news that he had lung cancer.

Diagnosed just as the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions began in the UK, Steven decided to remain in the North East with his children while he underwent treatment.

His sister, Angela, also lived abroad, returned to support her brother and his children while they were shielding.

When Steven’s condition deteriorated, he was referred to St Oswald’s Hospice and spent 2 weeks in the Adult Inpatient Unit. He died at the hospice in July 2022, aged 56.

Angela has since adopted Archie and Leah.

While Angela received bereavement support at St Oswald’s Hospice and Leah had a support worker at school, Archie refused all help, instead focusing on his pastimes of karate, gardening and The Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Angela described participating in Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds as “therapeutic” for the whole family.

“It’s made it easier to communicate with Leah and Archie using the project to break the ice and discuss Steven and what has happened in more detail.”

Angela, Steven’s sister.

Steven’s children helped Leanne to paint the canvas’s background and, using ‘Rangers’ blue, filled the canvas with an outpouring of favourite memories and things that reminded them of their dad.

“As Archie doesn’t open up at all, it was positive to see him painting the background and show his emotions,” Angela added.

She and the family are so pleased with the final portrait: “We were blown away as the picture seemed alive.”

Leah added: “I enjoyed coming to the hospice and writing on the canvas. The finished portrait is lovely and it’s made me feel closer to my dad because it looks so realistic.”

Our care: Adult Inpatient Service, Bereavement Support

Visit our Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds exhibition

Opening during Dying Matters Awareness Week, Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds exhibition will be on display at Newcastle Civic Centre 10th – 17th May, 2024 (exc Sunday) on the following days and times:

• 9.30am – 4.30pm weekdays

• 10am – 3pm Saturday

There will also be a special Meet the Artist event 11am – 2pm on Saturday 11th May.

Find out more about the project and read other families’ stories below.

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