A NEW artwork has been unveiled in the Royal Victoria Hospital in memory of Portering Supervisor Tony Doherty who sadly passed away following a battle with coronavirus in November 2020.
Tony’s colleagues in the Patient Client Support Services team linked up with the Arts Care Artists in Residence programme in the Belfast Trust, to create the mural dedicated to Tony. The programme aims to improve health and wellbeing through access to the arts.
The Colour of Loss (in memory of Tony Doherty) is a collaboration between artists Helen Shields and Frank Holmes and many of Tony’s former colleagues and friends.
The brightly coloured mural which is located in the Spoons restaurant is designed to represent Tony’s outgoing personality, dedication to his family and his kind hearted nature, while other elements in the design reflect many of the challenges and loss experienced over the last few years.
Tony had a long and successful career during his 28 years of service at the Royal Victoria where he worked as Assistant Operational Services Manager/Portering Supervisor and he is much missed by all his colleagues. Tony, who was originally from West Belfast, lived in Banbridge with his wife Deborah and son Conor.
Tony was very well known for his fundraising appeals including the annual Selection Box appeal which collects treats and toys for children in the Children’s Hospital.
Artist Helen Shields explains: “It was a pleasure for Frank and I to learn more about Tony, who is clearly a much-loved and missed member of the staff team here.
"Many people told us about Tony’s lively personality, his booming laugh and his pride in his family so we wanted to incorporate that. The mural is bright and colourful and right at the centre is a large oak tree which represents the larger than life and strong figure that Tony was, and also the essential central role that PCSS plays in supporting within the health care system.”
Sadly Tony’s parents Owen and Angela also passed away with coronavirus within 10 days of Tony’s passing and artist Frank Holmes wanted to include them in the mural too.
“We have included an outline of Tony standing with his parents, as well as their names," she continued.
Everyone has told us that Tony was a great family man so it was very important for us to include that and indeed remember all the families impacted throughout the pandemic.
"Much of the design reflects a Covid journey that we have all experienced.”
Tony’s wife Deborah Doherty, who works at the Royal Victoria Hospital, says it is very touching that Tony is remembered.
“It’s still surreal and shocking that Tony is gone and we miss him every day but it is so touching that he is still remembered by his colleagues, who he was so fond of," she said.
"It’s appropriate that the mural is in the restaurant where Tony loved to come for breakfast or just to enjoy the craic with his colleagues.
"Tony worked in many roles throughout his career and we’re really proud that his colleagues have continued his fundraising efforts especially in the Children’s Hospital.
"Tony was a gentle giant and a generous man. It means so much that Tony is remembered as the kind and big hearted person he was.”
Paula McHugh, Arts in Health Manager at Belfast Trust, added: “By offering a creative space, staff have been able to play such an important role in the creation of this artwork.
"Sharing their memories of Tony and expressing the many challenges of the last few years has resulted in a colourful uplifting artwork which now brightens the restaurant space for the staff, patients and visitors.”
The Colour of Loss (in memory of Tony Doherty) is on display in the Spoons Restaurant at the Royal Victoria Hospital.