Grandmother's artistic tribute

A Grandmother devastated by the death of her son and two grandsons in just 18 months, is staging a tribute art exhibition in Chichester to raise money for three leading charities.

Joyce Thorn, of East Preston, says that her painting helped her come to terms with losing her much-loved family members.

The 82-year-old was numb with disbelief when her youngest grandson, Ben Thorn, died as a result of a rare heart condition at the age of 24, in September, 2001.

She and her family had another shock when Ben’s brother, Gary, was found to have a brain tumour. He died just six months later, in March, 2002, at St. Barnabas’s Hospice, Worthing.

And when Joyce thought things couldn’t get much worse, her son, Tony, father of the two brothers, died a year later, in March 2003, after suffering a massive heart attack.

Tony, 50, and his sons were known for setting up Skylark cruises in 1995 and running river trips from Littlehampton to Arundel and Amberley during the summer months.

Joyce said: “It was heartbreaking. We just couldn’t believe it. It was a tough time. But we’ve all pulled through it.”

And one of the ways the Thorn family has coped is by completing various fundraising events and activities in memory of Ben, Gary and Tony.

Ron Thorn (mother and wife), of East Street, Littlehampton, has staged various events and her two twin daughters, Paula and Cheryl, have run the London Marathon on several occasions to raise money for charity.

“Because of my age I have not been able to run or cycle, but I can paint, so this exhibition is my effort to raise money for charities, which have helped my family,” said Joyce, who has sight in only one of her eyes.

“She has been painting for more than 60 years, and with her late husband Sidney, was the founder of the Harvest Arts Society in Fishbourne, during the 1980’s.

She is also an active member of the Downland Art Group and the Littlehampton Art Group.

Her stunning watercolour paintings feature in the exhibition in the foyer of the Oxmarket Centre of Arts, St Andrew’s Court off East Street. Chichester, from Monday, October 25 until Friday, November 5, between 10am – 4pm (excluding Sundays). They include breathtaking landscapes, architecture, countrysides and barns.

Pieces range from £30 upwards. All proceeds will be split between Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), St Barnabas’s Hospice, Worthing, and The British Heart Foundation.

There will also be a donation box at the exhibition.