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Hospice volunteer “delighted” with family portrait

A creative day hospice visitor has presented a John Taylor volunteer with a special thank you present.

Robert Homer, 56, used his artistic talents to turn a family photograph into an oil painting as a gift for volunteer host Marlene Leach. The custom portrait pictures Marlene’s daughter Sarah and grandson Riley.

“I knew that Robert was an accomplished painter,” said Marlene, who has volunteered at John Taylor Hospice for almost four years.

“When he offered to turn a special family photo into an oil painting I knew it would be very special. I’m absolutely delighted and so grateful to Robert for such a kind gift.”

Self-taught artist Robert, who lives in Birmingham, visits John Taylor’s Heart of the Hospice once a week. “I have pancreatic cancer so I receive palliative care,” said Robert.

Coming to the hospice has really helped me. I can be myself and talk openly with other visitors, staff and volunteers like Marlene. I never have to tread on eggshells.

Robert has been painting for a number of years combining his two passions in life - Impressionism and nature.

“I paint in oils and watercolours and have always been inspired by the works of JMW Turner,” said Robert, whose vibrant artwork can be seen on display throughout the hospice. “I really enjoy painting animals – particularly horses.”

It was this love of horses that took Robert on a very unusual journey at the age of 18. “I read a book by Monty Roberts – an American horse trainer also known as ‘The Horse Whisperer’,” explains Robert.

“I was so moved by it that I quit my job in a factory and went to Arizona to train with him. He teaches people how to communicate with horses, a form of non-verbal communication that he calls ‘Equus’. I’ve put it into practice many times and it’s just fascinating!”

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