Students creating the artwork

Student artists’ work aims to give hope to cancer patients at the William Harvey Hospital

Students created a bespoke artwork to brighten up a chemotherapy unit where their teacher had treatment for cancer.

The art ambassadors from the Towers School in Kennington, Ashford, worked with their teachers Amanda Gregory and curriculum lead Mikaela Wilson on the concept and design of the pieces of work, which has now been installed at the Celia Blakey Unit at the William Harvey Hospital. 

The bright, bespoke artworks depict four seasons, representing four stages of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and includes positive quotes for people to read while they are receiving chemotherapy in the unit.

Amanda said: “After I had my treatment, I said to the staff I would come back and add some colour to the walls.

“When I was there, there was nothing, and you were left with your own thoughts.

“I know it would have made a massive difference to me to have this work there, and to know there was a community thinking of me.”

The students involved were the school’s art ambassadors, who range from Year 7 to Year 11, and included pupils from the Wyvern unit, which allows young people with additional needs to be part of a mainstream school community.

The work begins with autumn, which represents a diagnosis, and fear and apprehension of what lies ahead, while winter represents the treatment. Spring is the end of treatment and the start of a new beginning, and summer represents the acceptance of a new, post-cancer, identity and moving forward to whatever lies ahead.

Amanda said: “They are so incredibly talented, and we couldn’t be prouder of them and what they have created. The art ambassadors have represented the school and community and demonstrated how to be the best version of themselves, with their empathy and hard work producing these pieces of work.

“It was so emotional to see what they have achieved. I think children today get such a bad reputation, but they are amazing and for them to have an outlet like this and be able to have a positive impact on people at one of the worst times of their lives is so valuable.”

Two of the students joined the two teachers and principal Richard Billings to see the work in situ and meet the team on the unit.

Amanda said: “Cancer hits everyone; everyone knows someone who is affected by it, and we wanted to try and make it less taboo, so people feel more able to talk about it.

“We can’t take away the fear when someone is diagnosed but we can try and remind them they are part of a community and there are people thinking of them.

“Cancer does change you and I think it gives you a new mindset. I hate some of the language around it, particularly the idea that people are battling, or winning or losing a fight.

“I had the best care, from my oncologist Dr Brown and everyone else, and Sophie, who is now the unit manager, was the first nurse who administered my treatment, so it was lovely to be able to come back to hand over the artwork.”

The students now hope to create different pieces of work to brighten up other areas of the hospital.