An artist with a flair for bringing storytelling to life has been busy creating marvellous murals on the Special Care Baby Unit at Rotherham Hospital.

Rotherham-based artist Lucy Strutt was chosen by colleagues at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust to enhance SCBU’s welcoming and homely atmosphere with her nature and magical themed designs.

SCBU Lucy Strutt – whale

Lucy is now half-way through the project which has seen the bare walls transformed with jungle animals, sea life creatures, arctic bears and sea lions plus a giant hot air balloon piloted by a bunny.

Lucy, 34, said:

“Rotherham Hospital’s SCBU is such a calm, lovely environment and the perfect place to paint, so it’s been a wonderful project to work on so far. The colleagues on the ward have been welcoming and supportive and have suggested some wonderful ideas to help shape the project.

SCBU Lucy Strutt – giraffe

“I feel really proud to be working here and the real-time feedback from parents who have seen my work has been wonderful. It’s rewarding to know it gives them the little boost they need when they’re spending so much time at the bedside of their baby.

“I really hope the paintings will make families happy for generations to come.”

The Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity are funding the project with all the paints and materials donated by Brinsworth Manor Junior School, where Lucy also works.

Lucy has previously worked with youngsters at schools across Rotherham and Sheffield and on a similar project at the Jessop’s maternity ward at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. She has also worked on the mural at projects in Australia, Nepal and Kenya.

SCBU art, Lucy Strutt – balloon and rabbit

Beverley Lomas, Ward Sister for SCBU, said:

“The murals are already receiving positive feedback from colleagues and patients’ families.

“It’s been wonderful working with Lucy on this project, from looking at her original drawings and sharing her vision for the ward to seeing her bring each room to life in such a colourful and vibrant way.

“We think her murals are stunning – really beautiful. All the families who’ve been with us while Lucy has been hard at work have enjoyed seeing the ward really come to life. It’s been a fantastic talking point and a way to bring parents who are going through similar circumstances together.

“We can’t wait to see the finished result now, especially Lucy’s plans to place some animals in hidden, unexpected places so siblings can search for them. Thank you to everyone who has supported the charity’s Dr Ted children’s appeal, because without that fundraising our beautiful ward revamp wouldn’t have been possible.”

SCBU – Chloe Butler with Lenny and Jax, five-weeks-old

Chloe Butler, 23, of Dinnington, gave birth to her twin sons Lenny and Jax five weeks ago at Rotherham Hospital, she said:

“I’ve been here for long enough to see the paintings develop and I think they certainly brighten up the rooms. I love that each room has a different theme and that they are fresh and just lovely to look at, especially when you’re here for more than six hours a day. My three-year-old daughter Avaya likes to look at them when she visits her brothers.”

SCBU – Sara Deakin with five-week-old Florence Rhea Lawson

Sara Deakin, 29, recently gave birth to her daughter Florence Rhea Lawson, who is now nine-days-old. Sara, of Brinsworth, also said:

“The murals make a really scary situation much nicer. It’s nice to focus on the paintings instead of all the wires and machines on the ward which Florence needs. In fact, the paintings are the first thing my 10-year-old son Thomas mentioned when he came to visit, rather than the equipment. We know Lucy from Brinsworth Manor Junior School, where Thomas goes, so he was really excited to see her pictures and loves them too.”

The mural art project is the first time SCBU has been repainted with new artwork in 15 years and is due to be completed by the end of March. Lucy was chosen for the project by the charity and Trust colleagues in November 2018 after a widespread appeal attracted 30 formal applications.

SCBU art, elephant

Barry Mellor, Chair of the Charitable Funds Committee, added:

“This has been a really exciting project for the charity as it’s been our first working with an artist to transform our hospital environment. We knew Lucy’s designs would appeal to youngsters and adults alike and it’s been lovely to hear the positive feedback from the parents of the babies we care for.

“We know that art in hospitals can really help lift people’s spirits, improve their sense of wellbeing and aid recovery so we hope Lucy’s work will inspire other artistic projects in future.”

For more information about the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity please contact Suzanne Rutter on 01709 426821 or via Charity@rothgen.nhs.uk.