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Portrait of a modern hero

June 30th, 2020 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Senior staff nurse Naomi O’Connell, who was nominated by her proud mother, Margaret, from Rosscarbery, to have her portrait painted after seeing the initiative on television during the height of the pandemic.

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BY MARTHA BRENNAN

WEST Cork native Naomi O’Connell, who is a senior staff nurse in London, had her portrait painted recently as part of the #PortraitsForNHSHeroes initiative.

Artists across the UK have been painting portraits of NHS key workers as part of  the campaign, run by English artist Tom Croft.

Naomi was nominated to have her portrait painted by her proud mother Margaret O’Connell, of Rosscarbery, who saw the idea discussed on television during the height of the pandemic.

Naomi moved to London seven years ago to study and later work as a children’s nurse. While working in the paediatrics ward of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Naomi was told she would be redeployed to a Covid-19 positive adult intensive care unit after the pandemic hit. Naomi is now helping to care for extremely sick patients while wearing PPE gear for up to 13 hours a day.

While the last few months have been very difficult for the young nurse, who was due to return home recently but had to stay put in London, her mother says that her attitude has been superb throughout the challenging times.

‘The way I look at it,’ said Naomi, ‘I’ll come out with better qualifications after this.’ Margaret says that the portrait looks just like her daughter, and the artist, Sally Wardart, captured Naomi perfectly.

Sally met with Naomi on Zoom before painting the portrait from a number of reference photos. The artist says that she really got a feel for Naomi’s warmth and sense of fun while painting the portrait, despite the challenges faced. Naomi was awestruck with the portrait and says that it will be a piece that she will treasure forever, and will no doubt see it hanging up in the family home on her next visit back to Rosscarbery.

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