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A portrait of a trainee nurse at Cirencester Hospital in the 1940s has been restored and reframed to its former glory. 

The painting shows Joan Walsh (nee Saxton), originally from Berkley, as a student nurse. Joan trained at the hospital for three years before qualifying as a Senior Registered Nurse in 1949. Artist Frank Cadagon Cowper was recovering at Cirencester after an operation and painted Joan during his stay. He later donated the portrait to the hospital. 

Joan’s son Patrick Walsh, along with his wife Teri, tracked down the portrait at Cirencester after Joan’s death and decided to get the painting restored, with the support of the hospital. Local picture restorer Pippa Jefferies discovered the painting had water damage, was discoloured and dirty, and carried out the necessary repairs. While the frame could not be saved, Mark Fisher from the Gilders Studio in Cheltenham created a new one and managed to keep the original label. 

Patrick unveiled the restored portrait to family, friends and hospital staff. He said “I’m sure my mother would say what a fuss this was about her picture but she would be very pleased that it is still loved by the hospital and its visitors over 70 years after it was painted. Thank you to everyone for supporting this project.” 

Donna Nicholas, Senior Sister at Cirencester Hospital said “This painting is a favourite among many of the staff, myself included, and we are delighted it has been restored. 

It often makes me reflect on how different nursing was when Joan was a trainee, but how nurses have always been supported by patients, visitors and the public.”


26 July 2017