The artist who paints portraits to honour frontline workers

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel. Left, Councillor Roy Brame, Christene Goddard and Receptionist, Katie. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

We all banged our saucepans on our doorsteps, but Christine Goddard has gone a little further to express her gratitude to NHS staff for their efforts during the pandemic.

The 69-year-old from Thetford has painted dozens of portraits of local health workers and others in frontline roles as a show of appreciation.

She started the artworks as 'therapy' while she was receiving treatment for cancer and ended up completing 72 paintings which are now on show at an exhibition.

The psychological therapist was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2020 following a routine screening and had been receiving treatment at the West Suffolk Hospital (WSH). However, this was delayed when she tested positive for Covid.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel. She presented them to staff at the Surgery, Thetford. Left, Sandy, Sue Taylor, Dr Balsam, Gemma Armed, Katie, Karen Brame, Christene Goddard, Councillor, Roy Brame, Elaine Bradley, Carmen, Carly Bassett. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

She said: "It was like the bottom had fallen out of my world really, it was so unexpected." 

To help her through the illness and treatment, she began painting staff who she encountered through her visits to her GP surgery and to hospital and who helped through a difficult time.

She was inspired to do so by a book given to her by her husband, Howard, called 'Portraits for NHS Heroes', a project by artist Thomas Croft who offered to paint NHS workers during lockdown.

Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel. Pictures: Brittany

Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

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Mrs Goddard's own project features staff from WSH, School Lane Surgery in Thetford, local firefighters and her postman.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

She said: "I needed something that would give me time to process what was going on for me.

"Painting them did all of that, but also helped me to think about these people who were helping me and what they were going through."

The artist has been presenting people with their portraits to thank them for their service, the latest of which have been nine doctors, nurses and support staff at School Lane surgery.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel. She presented them to staff at the Surgery, Thetford. Carly Bassett, practise manager. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

She said: "It uplifted people and gave them a morale boost.

"To them it was like 'someone notices what we're doing."

A digital exhibition of the photographs of all the portraits she has created was opened at Harrods of Hingham art gallery on Saturday, January 15 by Breckland Council chairman Roy Brame and South Norfolk Council chairman Florence Ellis.

Only days before it opened - a year on from her first operation - Mrs Goddard received the news that she is cancer free.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel.

The Surgery, Thetford. Local artist Christene Goddard has painted 71 portraits of emergency personnel. She presented them to staff at the Surgery, Thetford. Pictures: Brittany Woodman - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

Mrs Goddard is also working on a book of all the portraits and all donations from it will go to the St Nicholas Hospice.

Artist Chris Goddard painted portraits of staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford

Artist Chris Goddard painted portraits of staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford - Credit: Breckland Council

Artist Chris Goddard painted portraits of staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford

Artist Chris Goddard painted portraits of staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford - Credit: Breckland Council

Artist Chris Goddard painted portraits of staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford

Artist Chris Goddard painted portraits of staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford - Credit: Breckland Council

Artist Chris Goddard presented portraits to staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford

Artist Chris Goddard presented portraits to staff at School Lane Surgery in Thetford - Credit: Breckland Council