Action Medical Research – remembering baby Elijah – a painting and a sea voyage

October 14, 2021 1:04 pm

Jenny and James Halse brought their old oil on canvas painting by Irish Painter Edwin Hayes to The Repair Shop.  The painting reminded the couple of the Pembrokeshire seashore where they sought solace following the tragic loss of their son Elijah who died following his premature birth after just 37 days.  Aired on 13th October, the programme shows how thrilled Jenny and James were with the transformation.

“We had inherited the very tatty old painting from James’ Grandparents when Grandma Eileen died in 2018.  We don’t know the painting’s full history, but we think it was probably bought by distant family and hung in their London  house and then moved to the family home in Devon.”

“Grandpa Alex and Grandma Eileen emigrated to Canada in the 1950’s, and shipped furniture and treasured possessions from Devon to Nova Scotia after they had settled. We love to think that this painting crossed the Atlantic by boat itself many years ago.  We wonder if it was water damaged during the crossing.  We know it hung in their home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and moved twice with Grandma Eileen to her two nursing homes, despite it’s poor state of repair.”

Edwin Hayes lived from 1819-1904 and was a prolific painter of seascapes.  “There is a date on the back of “18” something or other, but this is unreadable due to the water damage.”

From a painted canvas to the Atlantic Ocean

Team Elijah’s Star is rowing the Atlantic in support of Action Medical Research to shine a spotlight on the impact premature birth has on babies and their families, and to help fund more research that can save lives.  The team is aiming to row across the Atlantic in just 37 days – to reflect the time that Elijah lived. With four team members, life on board will consist of two men rowing, while two eat and sleep, in a pattern of two hours on and two hours off, night and day.

Friends, Dean Frost, Philip Bigland, Mac McCarthy and Kevin Watkins are not strangers to extreme challenges, but spending more than a month (including over Christmas and New Year)  in a boat of just 28 feet long is an incredible challenge.

Supporting Action Medical Research is, Dean says, “an enormous privilege”.

“It means an awful lot to us to do this and to encourage others to support Action too, whether that’s financially or by spreading the word and joining us on this journey,” he reflects.