Artwork revives wartime memories


Artwork done by residents of a Wearside town has brought vivid memories back to a local veteran of those he loved and lost in the Second World War.

Frank Whyman, who lives in Seaham and is 88, served in the 93rd Anti-Tank and 6th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regiments, between 1941 and 1945.  He was invited to Healthworks, in Easington, to see ‘poppy artwork’ to be sold to raise funds for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

The beautiful art, which will be on display for the next two weeks, moved the ex-soldier to tears as he remembered his elder brother, Arthur, who was 22 when he was killed in 1945, serving his country.

Seventeen pieces of artwork line the main ground-floor corridor of the healthy living centre and vary from oil paintings to poppies made from silk.

Artworks is one of the many classes available at Healthworks and aims to improve mental health and well-being and provides the opportunity to develop creative skills in a warm, relaxed and supportive environment.

The healthy living centre works in partnership with NHS County Durham, NHS Darlington, Northumbrian Water and Durham County Council and offers people in Easington, and the surrounding area, a wide range of health information, activities and support. 

Frank, who fought in North Africa, Palestine, Italy and France, thought the art display was wonderful:  “I find it very difficult to talk about the war – when we came home we were told to put it to the back of our minds and move on.  So that’s what I did.  As I enjoy painting myself, being invited to see these pictures is so special and I am grateful for effort of the individuals involved and the money which will be raised. 

“The real heroes in my eyes are those who did not come home, like my brother.  I saw his grave, which is in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, in Germany, for this first time two years ago.  Those, like myself, who did come home need support which is why the Poppy Appeal is so important.  I think it is brilliant that Healthworks has thought of doing this.”

Fiona Maher, Healthworks co-ordinator, said:  “We are honoured to have had Frank at Healthworks.  It’s fantastic that users of the centre have been able to learn, be creative and produce lovely artwork which will help such a worthwhile cause.”

For further information contact Cara Hall, Northumbrian Water, on 0191 301 6720, or Pat Lawlor, NHS County Durham, on 0191 333 3003.

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