We pride ourselves on going the extra mile and recognising each person as an individual at St Catherine’s. With the help of more than 800 volunteers, we provide some incredible services, with a lesser known one provided by Helen Pointer, our volunteer portrait artist.
Most Wednesday afternoons, Helen can be found at our Crawley hospice, capturing someone’s likeness in a beautiful caricature. In the last year, she’s drawn 130 patient and family portraits. Helen said: “It’s a wonderful experience – I receive as much as I give. It’s such a privilege to be let into someone’s life. They tell me their story and I try and capture that through illustration. For that moment, it’s all about them.”
Helen originally trained as a nurse, before following her passion for art full time. When she’s not volunteering at St Catherine’s she creates caricatures and colour portraits at weddings, events and even on cruise ships. She’s even captured Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace!
Making a difference
When Dave Rose’s wife, Sheila was staying on our Inpatient Unit in 2015, he recalls how they were surprised when Helen offered to draw them. Dave said: “Not only did she create a brilliant picture of Sheila, she really listened to our story and included parts of our history in the sketch too. It was such a light thing to happen. It really raised our mood during a difficult time and I was so pleased with the picture that I included it in the order of service at Sheila’s funeral.”
When asked how she starts a caricature, Helen explained: “I always draw someone’s eyes first – they’re the first thing you look at. It’s not about anatomy, there’s a softness, a sparkle, some personality. The shape of people’s eyes changes as they tell a story and I wait for the moment that they want represented. It helps that I’ve also drawn so many of St Catherine’s nursing staff. It helps them understand what I do and to reassure patients that my style is fun. It’s an honour to know I can lift people’s spirits and leave them with a lovely memory.”
If you have a unique skill that you could use to help support St Catherine’s or are interested in volunteering please get in touch with our Volunteering Team on 01293 447351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org