A Suffolk sculptor has paid tribute to a friend and former neighbour by donating a striking piece of artwork to the Pear Tree Centre in his memory.
Brian Alabaster has given the piece – called Charlotte – to the Pear Tree Fund, with the charity installing it as the centrepiece of Richard’s Garden, at the centre next to Cutlers Hill Surgery in Halesworth.
The garden has been named after Richard Kell, who was a well-known local GP and chair of Halesworth Community Nursing Care Fund, the Pear Tree Fund’s predecessor, for 18 years before retiring from the role in 2017. Richard died in July 2019 of motor neurone disease at the age of 64.
“Richard was our friend, family doctor and neighbour for 25 years,” said Brian, who lives in Linstead. “We were devastated when he told us of his diagnosis and felt it was a cruel twist that someone who had dedicated his life to helping others should be dealt such a hand. It is difficult to express how much he meant to all our family. He was a truly extraordinary man.
“We are grateful to be given the opportunity to donate one of my sculptures to the garden dedicated to Richard and spent time choosing an appropriate piece with his wife Barbara. The sculpture of Charlotte sitting with a book in hand was the first one my wife Frannie and I thought of for this setting. We think she radiates a calm reflective and contemplative quality.
“We hope that visitors will enjoy seeing her sitting under the pear tree that gives the centre its name and that she will add to the lovely garden in memory of Richard.”
The Pear Tree Centre opened earlier this year following an extensive fundraising drive. It offers a wide variety of services to people with life-limiting illnesses and their families, including help understanding a diagnosis, counselling, financial and benefits advice and bereavement support.
The centre has temporarily been shut since March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but is due to reopen in August.
Barbara Kell, Pear Tree Fund trustee and a founder member of the charity, said: “My family and I are so grateful to Brian for donating this wonderful gift of the statue in memory of Richard for the Pear Tree Centre garden. It enhances the environment so beautifully and creates a lovely ambient space.
“We are also grateful to Ed Flaxman and his team at Studio 31 for designing such a lovely garden for us.”