Burton Latimer cancer patient launches charity calendar of his paintings
A Burton Latimer man who took up painting after being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer has launched a charity calendar featuring his artwork.
Retired geography lecturer Leslie Ellison, 83, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in 2014, and then Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukaemia (CMML) the following year.
He says he has always had an artistic streak and first took up painting as a hobby to document the transformation of a new garden.
He discovered that keeping an illustrated diary of wildlife, flowers and country activities through watercolours provided huge comfort as a coping mechanism and form of relaxation.
Leslie’s daughter Kathryn Jones, 47, was keen to see her father’s work in print, so established a website and organised publication of the first ‘Wildlife in Watercolour’ charity calendar for 2018.
Featuring some of their favourite paintings including a squirrel, bumble bee on lavender and two collared doves, this year’s calendar supports Cancer Research UK.
Leslie said: “When I’m fit and well I continue to paint, although it’s becoming much less regular now as I tire easily.
“Printing the calendar was a lovely thing for Kathryn to do.
“It has been wonderful to see my paintings looking so professional and to receive such lovely compliments from people who have bought them.”
Patients with CMML like Leslie have too many abnormal white blood cells, which normally fight infection in the bone marrow, leaving them susceptible to illness.
Leslie now receives weekly transfusions at Kettering General Hospital and was also fitted with a pacemaker in August after a previously undiscovered heart condition led to a fall and near fatal bleed.
Kathryn, a mum of three who also lives in Burton, can remember her dad drawing funny cartoons as a child and said that his brightly painted hard boiled eggs at Easter were legendary in their family.
She said that the idea to create a calendar came about when her dad was hospitalised in the summer and became quite down after being bed-bound for many weeks.
She said: “We almost lost dad in the summer and I cannot praise the paramedics, doctors and nurses at Kettering General Hospital enough.
“They saved his life through regular monitoring and blood transfusions when necessary, ensuring he has a relatively good quality of life, even though his prognosis is poor.”
Leslie and Barbara, his wife of 56 years, moved to Burton Latimer 12 years ago to be closer to Kathryn, her husband Paul and grandsons Dylan (16), Aidan (14), who both attend The Latimer Arts College, and Euan (11), a Year 6 pupil at St Mary’s Primary School.
For the past six months, his platelet levels have been so low that the reality is he could die from an internal bleed, for example, on the brain, at any time.
Sadly, this may well be his last Christmas.
The 2018 Wildlife in Watercolour Charity Calendar in support of Cancer Research UK is priced £6.99.