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Thetford resident, Christine Goddard says that she feels really proud that her book Hope – Portraits Of My Journey Through Breast Cancer and Covid has just been published. Putting a public face to 101 local NHS and Key workers who worked so hard to care for us during and since Covid first arrived in our community.

The project began when Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram in October 2020. Looking for something purposeful and meaningful to focus her mind, Christine decided to paint the portraits of the health professionals that she encountered on her cancer journey.

Painting the portraits was quite a challenge for novice artist Christine. “I had dabbled a little with painting before, but never portraits. I took up painting about four years ago, and until January 2021 I wouldn’t have believed that I would attempt to paint people and certainly not portraits!” With their permission, Christine took photos when she attended West Suffolk Hospital and during future appointments handed the portraits over with thanks for the care that she received. Over time hospital appointments diminished but covid was still with us, so Christine decided to carry on painting some of our local heroes, her postman, the person who delivered her medication, local pharmacy staff, firemen, teachers, doctors, nurses and support staff at School Lane Surgery.

“The project seemed to develop a life of its own, I was invited to have an exhibition at Harrods of Hingham Art Gallery and encouraged to put all my portraits together in a book which was
quite daunting as I’ve not done anything like this before.” To create the book, Christine invited all those that she had painted to share recollections of their covid experiences.

“It feels good that this has now become a ‘team’ book. A local story of our shared journey and experiences through Covid. Through this project I have met many lovely people, I’ve felt so grateful that we live in our little town with all the support services it provides.”

Having volunteered for the Psychological Support Team at St Nicholas Hospice since 2017, Christine decided to donate all proceeds from the book to the Hospice. “This portrait project began as therapy for myself and grew into something quite unexpected. Together we have captured snapshots and recollections of our Covid experiences before they are forgotten, so many different experiences giving a little insight into the impact of Covid on individuals and our community over the last three years. Hope has been a constant companion, Hope for a vaccine and survival. It sounds a bit dramatic now – but that’s how it felt at that time!”

Hope – Portraits Of My Journey Through Breast Cancer and Covid will be launched at Thetford Library on Saturday 25th November at 10.30am, and is available from Amazon.


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