Dr Diane Nicholsby, who had worked as a locum at Garstang Health Centre following a career in Bury, took up painting after MS (multiple sclerosis) forced her early retirement.
She discovered a new talent and now her pictures are in demand and on sale at two businesses – Bella’s coffee house and the neighbouring Vintage Attic in Thomas’s Weind.
Diane explained when the cafe, where she had previously run a craft evening, agreed to hang paintings she had painted during lockdown, she wanted to pay them commission. The owners declined but suggested instead that any funds raised go to the Foundation.
Diane said: “During lockdown I did a series of brightly coloured watercolour paintings to cheer folk up. Bella liked them and we decided to display them in the cafe to brighten it up and raise money for the Foundation. Several of the pictures depicted hot air balloons to signify the Covid floating away and use bright colours and fantasy settings.”
Edmea Isabella Gori, who is known as Bella in Garstang, and runs the cafe with mum Carol, explained that the charity and the cafe have special significance for them. The art history graduate’s late father Giancarlo, a chef who once worked for Inter Milan football club, had always dreamt of running a coffee shop and making jewellery in the shop at quiet times. Sadly he died of lung cancer, but she and her mum decided to pursue the dream.
They commute from Burnley but plan to move to Garstang soon. Meanwhile Diane, who has vision in just one eye, hopes to organise more craft evenings at the cafe as soon as Coronavirus restrictions allow. She said: “The right eye had optic neuritis when I was first diagnosed with MS and the nerve was damaged and did not recover. Painting has helped my fine motor control and depth perception with only having one useful eye.”
Bella said: “I really liked Diane’s paintings. Customers have loved them They said they are really cheery and happy. People have been trying to guess where the scenes were from which is nice.”
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