A DEDICATED artist made the back of his van his home while working to create a dementia friendly mural to brighten up a hospital’s walls.

John Hardy travelled from Staffordshire to Maldon’s St Peter’s Hospital to paint the serene forest scene on the hospital cafe’s walls.

Cafe manager Julie Taylor had been inspired to add the mural in time for the relaunch of the hospital’s dementia friendly cafe after seeing Mr Hardy’s work online.

She raised some cash from kind-hearted businesses and dignitaries to help get the idea off the ground.

But to keep costs down John would curl up in the back of his works van after 16-hour long painting sessions.

The finished piece depicts a forest garden scene with calm water and colourful flowers which it is hoped will improve the cafe’s ambiance.

John said: “It was Julie’s idea to have a tranquil scenic painting in the wall to improve the atmosphere in the cafe. We discussed ideas and shared a few images and I created a composition based on what we had talked about.

“Once I heard it was for the dementia and Alzheimer’s café, which runs primarily on donations, I jumped at the opportunity as charity work is something I’m very much interested in involving myself in with my business.

“The piece itself, although enjoyable, was difficult as deadlines had to be met and it was a very detailed piece.

“I worked from waking up to when I fell asleep, some days were 16-18 hours long and then I slept in my van in the hospital car park to cut down on costs.”

Although Maldon is a long way from his home in Burton-upon-Trent, John hopes to return to help Julie in future.

He added: “Julie was lovely, she’s super passionate about what she does and works extremely hard.

“I always do create to the best of my ability but when dealing with people who you admire and respect, it makes it easy to be dedicated to the piece.

“I’d love to say a big thank you to all the staff of the cafe, and show my appreciation and admiration for Julie. I will keep in touch and will no doubt involve myself in other opportunities she offers to me.”

Visit jardyartworks.com.